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Title: Religious Courts and Rights in Plural Societies: Interlegal Gaps and the Need for Complex Concurrency
Authors: Jaclyn Neo 
Keywords: legal pluralism
law and religion
religious courts
Issue Date: 25-Nov-2021
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter GmbH
Citation: Jaclyn Neo (2021-11-25). Religious Courts and Rights in Plural Societies: Interlegal Gaps and the Need for Complex Concurrency. The Law & Ethics of Human Rights 15 (2) : 259-285. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The administration or recognition of religious courts is a form of religious accommodation present in many constitutional states today commonly analysed in legal pluralism terms. This article contributes to the further analysis of the relationship between legal pluralism and rights in religiously diverse societies by examining the status of state religious courts and their interaction with state non-religious (secular) courts. In particular, I examine what Cover calls “jurisdictional redundancies” between the courts and conceptualize the allocation of power between religious and non-religious courts as a potentially productive site of interlegality. In doing so, I support concurrent jurisdictional allocations, arguing that exclusive jurisdiction could result in what I call an interlegal gap, whereby instead of inter-penetration of norms and production of reconciliatory principles, there is a justice gap whereby litigants may find themselves unable to obtain appropriate legal recourse including when neither court is willing to assume jurisdiction over the matter. This requires us to see the relationship between religious courts and non-religious courts through the more mundane but more practical lens of jurisdictional overlaps and competition, rather than through the more abstract framing of normative or even civilizational clashes. Accordingly, I argue that concurrent jurisdiction and interlegality have greater potential to strike a balance between individual and group rights and could be more protective of religious diversity. In other words, I argue for a closer, rather than a more separate, relationship between religious and non-religious courts, while denying that a hierarchical relationship where religious courts are subordinated to non-religious courts is the only way to protect rights.
Source Title: The Law & Ethics of Human Rights
ISSN: 2194-6531
DOI: 10.1515/lehr-2021-2027
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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