The entire process of scuttling came to light at the Muslim Personal Law committee meeting which was held yesterday at the Justice Ministry.
According to sources at the Justice Ministry Chairperson former Supreme Court Judge Saleem Marsoof was presented with another report referred to as the Majority Committee report signed by “majority members”. The alternate report which is based on the archaic readings of scripture was also signed by the President of the Muslim Lawyers Association Faiz Musthapha.
However, the meeting was not attended by the purported “majority members” under whose name the new report was submitted including Faiz Musthapha PC and Shibly Azeez PC. Accordingly discussion on this new document was not possible. The decision was made thereon to sign one report with two lines of argument and two sets of signatures at a further meeting to be held on 20th December as the “majority members” coerced by the Ulama wanted time to improve the report further. In effect the entire exercise means the presenting of two reports.
The President of the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, Rizwie Mufthi in an email with the majority report confirmed that Faiz Musthapha PC, Shibly Aziz PC, Justice Mackie Mohomad, Dr. M. M Shukri and Nadv Bahudeen were part of the “majority”. At the previous meeting held on 17th September Rizwie Mufthi, M M A Mubarak, Justice A W A Salam and Fazlet Shahabdeen who were present at the meeting objected to the pro reforms report put together by the Chairperson. From the pro-reform side were Secretary of the Muslim Lawyers Association Razmara Abdeen, Deshabandu Jezima Ismail, Professor Sharya Surangivel, Attorney at law Safana Gul Begum, F Jurampahthy and Justice Saleem Marsoof himself. Judge Mackie Mohomad counted as “majority member” by Rizwe Mufthi had excused himself from the 17th meeting with an email stating his agreement with the pro-reform group, subject to one minor issue.
The Ministry source confirmed that Justice Marsoof’s report had been ready for almost a year but not signed due to retrogressive elements within the committee wanting to continue male dominance.
Yesterdays meeting ended with all agreeing to disagree, fixing 20th December for signing a divided report, contents of which will be finalized in due course. The source from the Ministry stated that final report will thereafter be forwarded to the cabinet sub-committee appointed by Former Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. The sub-committee comprise Minister of Public Enterprise Development, Kabir Hashim, Minister of Water Supply and Drainage, Rauff Hakeem, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishard Bathiudeen, Minister of Provincial and Local Government, Faiszer Mustapha, Minister of Muslim Affairs and Postal Services, M.H.M. Haleem, Minister of Women and Child Affairs, Chandrani Bandara and Deputy Minister of Water Supply and Drainage, Dr. Sudharshani Fernandopulle.