The impleadment application filed by the Dawoodi Bohra Women’s Association for Religious Freedom (“DBWRF”) pertaining to the matter of Sunita Tiwari vs the Union of India was heard today. The Honourable Supreme Court of India accepted the impleadment and allowed DBWRF, a trust formed by thousands of the Dawoodi Bohra women all across India, to become a party to the PIL to voice their opinion as this would have serious consequences on the religious and cultural beliefs and practices of the women of the community.
During the course of hearing, Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Senior Advocate appearing for DBWRF contended:-
1. Khafz/Female Circumcision as practised by the Dawoodi Bohra community is not Female Genital Mutilation and is completely different from Female Genital Mutilation, which is condemned by the Dawoodi Bohra community;
2. The practise of Khafz is an essential part of the religion as practiced by Dawoodi Bohra Community and their right to practice and propagate religion is protected under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India;
3. Since the practise of Khafz is protected under the Constitution, international treaties and conventions are inapplicable in the case;
4. The practise of Khafz is also protected under Article 29 of the Constitution as part of the right to conserve culture;
5. All schools of Islam across the world mandatorily practise Male Circumcision. There are some schools of Islam which also practise Female Circumcision such as the Dawoodi Bohra Community. Thus, banning Female Circumcision while Male Circumcision is allowed would be violative of the right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution.