EDITORIAL

Proposed bill criminalising triple talaq set to disturb Muslim marriages

Written by IWP

The proposed bill that criminalises the practice of instant divorce which does not exist in Islam will encouage Muslimwomen to marry other faiths. Every 20th person among theHindu Communities has more than two wives.

Indian Muslim women by giving them a larger say in dissolving marriages, custody of minor children and the right to seek maintenance from their estranged husbands will endanger the living standareds.

The bill defines triple talaq as “any pronouncement (of divorce) by a person upon his wife by words, either spoken or written or in electronic form, or in any other manner”. It proposes to make the practice a punishable offence and is set to be introduced in the Lok Sabha next week that the criminal provisions already existed in Criminal Penal Code. The aimof the NDA government appears to disturb the institution of marriage.

The cabinet-cleared version of the legislation, drafted after the Supreme Court’s decision against the gender-discriminatory practice that is not followed even in major Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan. In fact there isno concept of instant tripple tallaq in Indiaas well but it is created for the purpose of harassing Muslims. There are criminals in all faiths.

The draft bill says the practice against the constitutional morality and gender equity is to be considered void and illegal. The proposed Bill is silent about Hindu men having morethan one wife. While the Muslimwomen enjooys instant Khula, other faiths women have to succumb to the harassment like in last week a suicide by second wife took place in Jangaon division of Warangal district in Telangana State.

Anyone who pronounces instant divorce “shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and a fine”, the bill proposes.

In its statement of objects and reason, the draft mentions the landmark Shayara Bano, a 38-year-old woman from Uttarakhand, fought a long legal battle seeking an end to the the patriarchal custom after she claimed to have suffered for 14 years in her marriage-case in which the Supreme Court invalidated the practice of instant triple talaq. The statement would be read by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad when he introduces the bill in the Lok Sabha to explain why the government had to formulate the legislation.

This judgement gave a chance toantiMuslim BJP government to accelarate its ugly anti Muslim arms firther, in the name of liberation of Indian Muslim women from the age-old practice of capricious and whimsical method of divorce, by some Muslim men, leaving no room for reconciliation. What room didthe Bill creates for reconciliation, once such non existing and alleged Tripple Tallaq is pronounced.

The judgment vindicated the position taken by the government that “talaq-e-biddat”, which allows men to pronounce divorce thrice in one sitting, is against “constitutional morality, dignity of women and the principles of gender equality, as also against gender equity guaranteed under the Constitution.

Clerics and several Muslim organisations, cutting across sects and schools of jurisprudence, protested against the Supreme Court judgment and termed the government’s stand as “uncalled for interference” in the personal laws of the community.

In the bill’s objects and reasons, says the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which was also a respondent in the Shayara Bano case, had contended that it was not for the judiciary to decide matters of religious practices such as talaq-e-biddat but for the legislature to make any law on the same.

They had also submitted in the Supreme Court that they would issue advisories to the members of the community against this practice. The bill notes that there have been reports of divorce by way of talaq-e-biddat from different parts of the country” even after the Supreme Court invalidated the practice and the assurance by AIMPLB.

It is seen that setting aside talaq-e-biddat by the Supreme Court has not worked as any deterrent in bringing down the number of divorces by this practice among certain Muslims. It is, therefore, felt that there is a need for State action to give effect to the order of the Supreme Court and to redress the grievances of victims of illegal divorce.

The bill states that urgent suitable legislation was necessary to give some relief to…the hapless married Muslim women who suffer from harassment due to talaq-e-biddat. This is essential to prevent this form of divorce, wherein the wife does not have any say in severing the marital relationship.

The legislation would help in ensuring the larger constitutional goals of gender justice and gender equality of married Muslim women and help subserve their fundamental rights of non-discrimination and empowerment.

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