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Bangladesh’s Education Minister orders Reinstatement of Hindu Schoolmaster

“The managing committee’s suspension order is not valid because it was not taken according to the rules. The meeting that suspended him had no agenda. The committee removed him through an unfair way; so the decision was illegal”

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MP Selim Osman addresses a news conference in Narayanganj, Bangladesh, May 19, 2016
MP Selim Osman addresses a news conference in Narayanganj, Bangladesh, May 19, 2016
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The Hindu Schoolmaster who was attacked by a Muslim crowd and was suspended by school’s governing body over the allegations of defaming Islam should be reinstalled back to his post, commanded Nurul Islam Nahid, Bangladesh’s Education Minister, on Thursday.

Education Minister announced that an investigation by his ministry found that Shymal Kanti Bhakta, the headmaster at Piyar Sattar Latif High School in central Narayanganj district, had not insulted Bangladesh’s state religion.

Nahid also announced that he dissolved the school’s managing committee, which had suspended Bhakta on Tuesday over allegations of insulting Islam, being corrupt and not showing up to work.

“We have not found anything that may hurt religious sentiment,” Nahid told reporters on Thursday at the International Mother Language Institute in Dhaka.

He called a press conference to publicize the findings of his ministry’s investigation.

“The managing committee’s suspension order is not valid because it was not taken according to the rules. The meeting that suspended him had no agenda. The committee removed him through an unfair way; so the decision was illegal,” Nahid said.

Related Article: Born as a secular state: Why Bangladesh is degenerating into an Islamic country

The case involving the educator from Bangladesh’s small Hindu minority had dominated local headlines in recent days and it centered on an MP from the district, Selim Osman, subjecting the schoolmaster to a public act of humiliation. Osman allegedly forced Bhakta to squat and hold his ears after a crowd had attacked him for allegedly defaming Islam.

The scene was filmed on a witness’s mobile phone and the video of the incident went viral after it was uploaded to social media sites.

Supreme Court of Bangladesh
Supreme Court of Bangladesh in Dhaka, Wikimedia Commons

Nahid’s announcement came a day after Bangladesh’s High Court, amid growing outrage over the incident and solidarity with the Hindu educator, ordered the relevant authorities to explain why they had taken no action against the lawmaker and others who took part in the controversial incident on May 13. Thousands of people of all faiths joined a countrywide protest against the teacher’s humiliation and demanded punishment of the MP and the school committee members.

Unapologetic

On Thursday, however, the MP Osman defended his actions and refused to apologize to Bhakta for what had happened to him on Friday.

“I am a Muslim. I will not tolerate it if anyone insults Islam. I have punished a person who insulted Islam, not a teacher,” Osman told a news conference in Narayanganj, according to local media reports, adding that he would not offer a public apology as demanded by professional groups and social media activists.

He said a mob had telephoned him “to settle the matter” after beating Bhakta and confining the educator to a room .

“There were thousands of people waiting outside. They told me to leave him to the mob. But I rescued him,” Osman said.

“As I asked whether he insulted Islam, he said he could have done so. He then willingly came out and squatted, holding his ears,” the MP added.

Bhakta, for his part, maintained that he had not criticized Islam. He accused Osman of slapping him four times and forcing him to hold his ears – which is considered an act humiliation in Bangladesh.

“I have not insulted the religion. If he [Osman] said this, he could have done so to save himself,” Bhakta told reporters on Thursday, local media reported. (Benarnews)

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For Plea Against Polygamy Supreme Court Takes Centre’s Response

personal laws must meet the test of constitutional validity and constitutional morality

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a fresh plea that challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims in India.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a fresh plea that challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims in India. Flickr

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a fresh plea that challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims in India.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud issued the notice to the Centre and tagged the plea with similar petitions pending before it.

The fresh plea filed by Women Resistance Committee Chairperson Nazia Ilahi Khan, a practicing advocate at the Calcutta High Court, has challenged the practice of polygamy, ‘nikah halala’, ‘nikah mutah’ (temporary marriage among Shias) and ‘nikah misyar’ (short-term marriage among Sunnis) on the grounds that these were violative of the Constitution’s Articles 14, 15 and 21.

Under ‘nikah halala’, if a Muslim woman after divorce by her husband three times on different instances, wants to go back to him, she has to marry another person and then divorce the second husband to get re-married to her first husband.

“Declare the dissolution of the Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution in so far as it fails to secure for the Indian Muslim women the protection from bigamy which has been statutorily secured for Indian women from other religions,” said her plea filed through advocate V.K. Biju.

The apex court has been hearing pleas filed by Sameena Begum, Nafisa Khan, Moullium Mohsin and BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay on the issue.

Article 14 guarantees equality before law, Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and Article 21 guarantees protection of life and personal liberty.

Telling the court that though different religious communities are governed by different personal laws, Upadhyay had contended that “personal laws must meet the test of constitutional validity and constitutional morality in as much as they cannot be violative of Articles 14, 15, and 21”.

Pointing to the “appalling” affect of polygamy and other such practices on the Muslim women, senior counsel Mohan Parasaran had earlier told the apex court that the 2017 judgment holding instant ‘triple talaq’ as unconstitutional had left these two issues open and did not address them.

Polygamy, Man along with his 5 wives
Polygamy, Man along with his 5 wives. Flickr

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar (since retired), by a majority judgment in 2017, had said: “Keeping in view the factual aspect in the present case, as also the complicated questions that arise for consideration in this case (and, in the other connected cases), at the very outset, it was decided to limit the instant consideration to ‘talaq-e-biddat’ or triple talaq.

Also read: Goa Common Civil Code forbids neither Oral Divorce nor Polygamy among Muslims: Governor

“Other questions raised in the connected writ petitions, such as polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ (and other allied matters), would be dealt with separately. The determination of the present controversy may, however, coincidentally render an answer even to the connected issues.” (IANS)