Day 1 Arguments: 9th July, 2018

Today, the three-judge Bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak MisraJustice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud began hearing the challenge to the practice of female circumcision.

 

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, referring to the practice as ‘female genital mutilation’ (FGM). She noted that FGM violates Section 3(b) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, which criminalizes penetrative sexual assault. Further, she pointed out that FGM has no known health benefits.

 

Justice Chandrachud observed that the right to privacy is also at stake, since the practice involves a person’s genitals.

 

Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing members of the Dawoodi Bohra community, argued that female circumcision 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 the tenth-century.

 

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 16th July 2018 at 2.00 P.M.

                                                                    (This report was written by Mr. Samya Chatterjee.)