Prof. Faizan Mustafa addresses packed audience at JMI talks about Haji Ali Dargah verdict

JMINew Delhi ( sadaebharat desk ) Observing that there has been inconsistency in the use of judicially invented ‘essentiality test’ noted legal expert and Vice Chancellor of Hyderabad based NALSAR University of Law, Prof. Faizan Mustafa today said that this has proved to be the biggest deterrent to freedom of religion in India.

The judiciary was wrong in privileging certain religious practices over others and there have been inconsistencies in the use of judicially invented ‘essentiality test’, Prof. Mustafa said delivering a lecture on “Freedom of Religion, Secularism and “Haji Ali” Verdict organized by the Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) here.

“‘Essential practices’ of religions in the past have been decided without any reference to the scriptures and dogmas of concerned religions but on the basis of earlier judicial decisions. The essential practices test has proved to be the biggest deterrent to freedom of religion in India. It does not have any constitutional basis. The Constitution of India provides protection to religion as a whole subject to restrictions and not just to essential elements of a religion”, he said.

Discussing how Supreme Court of India over a period of time has interpreted religion and its essential features, he told a packed audience of students and faculty members that the “essential practice test of a religion” evolved by the Apex Court was ‘unconstitutional and does not promote secularism’.

He said that the whole concept of providing constitutional protection only to those elements of a religion that the court considers ‘essential’ is problematic.

Talking about the Bombay High Court order allowing women to enter into the Haji Ali Dargah, he said that the verdict is correct but the reasons provided for it were flawed. He said that how can writ petition filed against a Trust and how the case was incorrectly argued before the High Court.

Earlier, Prof. Nuzhat Parveen Khan, Dean, Faculty of Law, JMI welcomed Prof. Faizan Mustafa on behalf of Vice Chancellor, Prof. Talat Ahmad who could not attend the lecture due to his pre-occupation.

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