Maharashtra government stays guidelines formulated by previous BJP regime to appoint qazis

Maharashtra government stays guidelines formulated by previous BJP regime to appoint qazis

Based on those rules, last week, the Shiv Sena-led government had issued advertisements for the appointments of new qazis. (File Photo)

THE state government on Friday stayed a move initiated under the previous BJP regime to appoint qazis to solemnise Muslim marriages in Maharashtra.

Last June, then Devendra Fadnavis government had laid down a slew of regulations for the appointment of qazis.

Based on those rules, last week, the Shiv Sena-led government had issued advertisements for the appointments of new qazis.

However, following opposition from certain groups, it said on Friday that the government was keeping the order in abeyance. It has now said that it will set up an independent committee that will come up with a new set of rules to appoint qazis.

"We have kept the previous government resolution (GR) in abeyance. Certain sections of the society were unhappy with the parameters that had been laid down in the GR. We will now set up an committee, which will provide fresh guidelines on how qazis would be appointed. The new rules will come into effect in three months," Minority Affairs Minister Nawab Malik said.

The institution of qazi occupies an important position in the administration of Muslim law. The powers for appointment of qazis, which has usually been a hereditary post so far, has been conferred on the state under the Kazis Act, 1880.

The rules stipulated by then BJP government said that there should be one chief qazi for every 25,000 Muslim residents and one additional qazi for every 25,000 more.

It also stated that qazis should have a degree in Islamic jurisprudence and be conversant in Urdu, Marathi and English. While stipulating that the post could not be hereditary, it also specified how much qazis could charge for solemnising rituals -- ranging from Rs 750 to Rs 1,500.

Ahmed Qazi, who represents the interests of qazis in Nashik district, said: “These rules would have caused immense problems in the way the office of qazi functions. Throwing the post open to all, without necessary safeguards, could have further created problems.”

“Our only demand is that necessary safeguards need to be in place in order to ensure that priority is given to local residents when it comes to the appointment of qazis, who know the people residing in an area. We are happy that the state has taken cognisance of our concerns and kept the earlier proposal in abeyance,” he added.