Recently, the concept of “Triple Talaq” has been in news, as Muslim women from across the country sought the Supreme Court’s intervention to end the practice and polygamy. The apex court has called for an open-court debate on the highest judiciary’s authority to look into Islamic personal law and possibly subject it to the regime of fundamental rights under the Constitution. Yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also criticized the practice of Triple Talaq, and says that it needs to be revamped for gender justice to prevail in the country. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has criticised this move and accused the government of creating an “internal war” but the Centre has denied this, saying its only concern was welfare of women.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has given the following statement in this regard: “When serious discords develop in a marriage and husband wants to get rid of wife, legal compulsions and time consuming judicial process….in extreme cases husband may resort to illegal criminal ways of getting rid of her by murdering her. In such situations, the triple talaq is a better recourse,” it told the apex court. Marriage is a contract in which both parties are not physically equal. Male is stronger and female is a weaker sex. Securing separation through court takes a long time deters prospects of remarriage,” it added.”
The AIMPLB also believes that misuse of Islamic laws has been blown out of proportion. The total population of Muslims in India is about 17 crore. Of the 17 crore, 0.5% or 3.5 lakh persons had taken divorce. Also, of the total divorce cases in Muslims, less than 1% is of triple talaq. Thus, we are convinced that triple talaq is being exaggerated. AIMPLB supports Triple Talaq because:
a. Women get killed when men don’t have easy divorce
b. Obtaining divorce from courts scandalizes women’s character, for men the damage is little
c. Obtaining divorce from courts “deters re-marriage” prospects of men, women
d. Triple Talaq is sin, but ‘valid and effective’ form of divorce
Islamic scholars have mixed opinion regarding the practice of Triple Talaq. Zeenat Shoukat Ali says “The practice of arbitrary instantaneous triple talaq is not known to Muslim law and a declaration by the Supreme Court to outlaw this practice is long overdue”.
On the other hand, Syeda S Hameed said “The proceedings in the Supreme Court may only serve to polarise public opinion. It will pit Muslim clerics against secular groups pressing for state intervention and “provide the masala to the electronic and social media.” Stereotypical images of Muslim women and Muslim men will be flashed as the backdrop to sharply divided panels who will engage in mutual acrimony. Whichever side ‘wins’, the impact of internal democratisation and reform on Muslim women who seek to negotiate their rights within the faith would receive a setback. It will also provide a boost to the anti-Muslim propaganda of the Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other Hindu right wing outfits and may even fuel communal violence in the country which in her opinion, is best avoided as it may result in loss of innocent lives of people at the margins from both communities.”
Currently, more than 20 countries have banned / amended / abolished triple talaq (by saying ‘I divorce you’ three times in one sitting); of which some of them are Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, Iran, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sudan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Sri Lanka.
In Egypt and Iraq saying ‘I divorce you’ thrice in one sitting; is counted as having said the same once. Each time ‘I divorce you’ is pronounced, a period of 90 days (3 menstrual cycles in a woman) is required. The divorce is granted once 210 days are over and ‘I divorce you’ is said thrice in that period In Pakistan the man should submit a notice to the local government body and a copy of the same has to be given to the wife. Within 30 days of receiving the notice, an arbitration council has to reconcile the couple. If the arbitration fails, talaq is effective after 90 days or at completion of pregnancy period in a woman (whichever is later). In Tunisia and Algeria a standard legal course is taken for divorce proceedings.
At CSR, we believe very strongly that Triple Talaq is discriminatory. The gender movement in India has been taking a stand to abolish Triple Talaq since the 1970s. Due to the vote bank politics, the governments have been wary of taking action regarding the same. It is high time that the Government of India submits abolishment of Triple Talaq to the Supreme Court of India without any further delay. We feel that Personal Laws are patriarchal and are managed by religious contractors and Thekedaars, thus all of these should be repealed with immediate effect, and there should not be a parallel system of Uniform Civil Code as this will only codify Personal Laws. All the citizens should be within the ambit of Modern Laws which are Constitutional.
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