1st Edition

Communities and Courts Religion and Law in Modern India

Edited By Manisha Sethi Copyright 2022
    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    152 Pages
    by Routledge

    The entanglement of law and religion is reiterated on a daily basis in India. Communities and groups turn to the courts to seek positive recognition of their religious identities or sentiments, as well as a validation of their practices. Equally, courts have become the most potent site of the play of conflicts and contradictions between religious groups. The judicial power thus not only arbiters conflicts but also defines what constitutes the ‘religious’, and demarcates its limits.

    This volume argues that the relationship between law and religion is not merely one of competing sovereignties – as rational law moulding religion in its reformist vision, and religion defending its turf against secular incursions– but needs to be understood within a wider social and political canvas. The essays here demonstrate how questions of religious pluralism, secularism, law and order, are all central to understanding how the religious and the legal remain imbricated within each other in modern India. It will be of interest to academics, researchers, and advanced students of Sociology, History, Political Science and Law.

    The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of South Asian History and Culture.

    1. Introduction – Communities and courts: religion and law in modern India

    Manisha Sethi

    PART 1 Religion and Law: Competing Sovereignties?

    2. Framing religion in constitutional politics: a view from Indian Constitutional Law

    Mathew John

    3. Ritual death in a secular state: the Jain practice of Sallekhana

    Manisha Sethi

    PART 2 The Contested Field of Muslim Personal Law

    4. Codification of Islamic Law in South Asia, or how not to do comparative law

    Abhik Majumdar

    5. Shari’a politics, ʿulamā and Laity Ijtihād: fields of normativity and conviviality

    Neshat Quaiser

    PART 3 Communities and Conflicts

    6. Religion, law and state policing: accusations, inquests and arbitration of religious conflicts in colonial India

    M. Raisur Rahman

    7. The mosque as juristic person: law, public order and inter-religious disputes in India

    Tanweer Fazal

    8. Art, law and the violence of offence taking

    Malvika Maheshwari

    9. Secular moral/legal commitments revisited: an interlude by way of afterword

    Sasheej Hegde


    Manisha Sethi teaches at NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad. She is the author of Kafkaland: Law, Prejudice and Counterterrorism in India (2014) and Escaping the World: Women Renouncers among Jains (Routledge, 2012).