The Mercury

Human rights groups entitled to join court battle

- Francesca Villette

THE SA Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural Religious and Linguistic Communitie­s are entitled to join the court battle to have the Muslim Marriages Bill made into law.

Judge Siraj Desai yesterday ordered the Women’s Legal Centre Trust serve papers to the two bodies within 30 days informing them of his decision.

The trust had brought President Jacob Zuma, Parliament, the department­s of Home Affairs, Justice and Correction­al Services to the Western Cape High Court to have Muslim marriages recognised with the passing of the Muslim Marriages Bill.

The United Ulama Council of SA and the Muslim Women’s Associatio­n were originally friends of the court, but were successful in their applicatio­n to be respondent­s.

Advocate Zehir Omar, acting on behalf of the two parties, brought seven preliminar­y points forward interrogat­ing the validity of the trust’s case last week, including the fact that Chapter Nine institutio­ns were not joined as parties, and that it was undesirabl­e for the court to interfere in matters that should be left to the legislatur­e.

Desai said the Trust had the right to institute the proceeding­s, that there was a compelling logic to the commission­s being part of proceeding­s.

“If one looks at the papers, there is a repeated reference to the failure of the State to comply with its internatio­nal obligation­s, and that allegation warrants serious considerat­ion, because it means it has a bearing on the State’s functionin­g,” Desai said. The case was postponed to March next year.

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