ISLAMABAD: The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) on Monday agreed to define ‘interest’ and ‘Riba’ after resuming the hearing of a case on which it delivered a verdict 25 years ago.
The four-judge bench of the Shariat Court is headed by Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan.
In 1992, the FSC had termed ‘Riba’ repugnant to the injunctions of Islam in a case filed by the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).
Later, hearing an appeal against the decision in 1999, the Supreme Court’s Shariat Appellate Bench upheld the FSC ruling, asking the then government to amend all banking laws and other statutes, prohibiting Riba, within two years.
However, the government and some banks filed a review petition before the Supreme Court.
In 2002, the case was referred to the FSC by the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling, which had declared interest or ‘Riba’ unacceptable. The apex court also directed the FSC to solicit input from contemporary jurists from the Muslim world. The matter has been pending before the FSC for the past 15 years.
On Monday, the FSC observed that the court will first define ‘Riba’ and ‘interest’ before deciding on its jurisdiction in this matter.
During the hearing, JI’s counsel Qaisar Imam and Dr Fareed Paracha appeared before the court.
Dr Muhammad Anwar, who is amicus curiae in the case, stated that the court should first define ‘Riba’ and ‘interest’ before issuing any ruling.
Agreeing with this proposal, the court adjourned the case for 15 days.
Last year, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on October 29, 2015 had informed the FSC that the Constitution did not explicitly define ‘interest’ or ‘Riba’.
Salman Akram Raja, the counsel for SBP, had contended before the Shariat Court that the Constitution specifically mentioned eliminating interest, but did not define either ‘interest or Riba’.
He also explained that the economy thrived on financial instruments, including taxes and loans, and that the country, in its economic interest, should stay connected with the global financial system.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2017.