Arguments Summary: Day 1 (July 9, 2018)

 

Today, the three judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice  Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud  began hearing the challenge to the practice of female genital mutilation ('FGM').

 

It was the last matter listed for the morning session and the courtroom was relatively packed. The Supreme Court very briefly heard this matter.

 

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising opened the arguments and noted that the practice of FGM violates Section 3(b) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 which criminalizes penetrative sexual assault. She pointed out that FGM has no known health benefits. At this point, Justice Chandrachud observed that it also involves the question of privacy as it concerns a person’s genitals.

 

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the respondents from Dawoodi Bohra community, argued that FGM is integral to the community and is protected under Article 25 and Article 26 of the Constitution. He added that the practice has been going on since 10th century AD.

 

At this point, some counsels remarked that Mr. Singhvi’s stance is influenced by his affiliation to the Congress party. The remarks were not addressed to the bench.

 

Chief Justice Misra asked Mr. Singhvi to argue his submissions in the next hearing. The matter has been listed for July 16, 2018 at 2.00 P.M.

 

(This report has been written by Mr. Samya Chatterjee.)