Politics

The Muslim women protection bill! Abolishment of Triple Talaq

30th July 2019

A historic day, the draconian ‘triple talaq’ practice has been put to rest, as parliment passes ‘muslim women protection bill’.

PM Modi said this is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society, as he thanked all parties and MPs who supported its passage.

“An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history! Parliament abolishes triple talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!” he said.

The prime minister said this is an occasion to salute the remarkable courage of those Muslim women who have suffered great wrongs due to the practice of triple talaq and added that its abolition will contribute to women empowerment and give them the dignity they deserve.

The Muslim women protection bill majorly seeks to achieve the following-

  • It makes Talaq-e-biddat and any such talaq cognisable and non-bailable offense. Imprisonment upto 3 years and fine.
  • Subsistence allowance to the married Muslim women by her husband for her and her dependent children
  • A Muslim woman, against whom triple talaq is uttered, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children.

Opposition, who have considered vote banking orthodox Muslim votes, is their on ly duty, opposed the bill saying – a civil bill has been converted into a criminal one by proposing imprisonment.

Shri Ravishankar Prasad, the union law minister while debating on the bill in Loksabha, on 26th July, urged the opposition to not repeat the ‘historic mistake’ of Shah Bano case.

What is that mistake?

In April 1978, a 62-year-old Muslim woman filed a petition in court demanding alimony or maintenance from her divorced husband Mohammed Ahmad Khan, a renowned lawyer in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. The two were married in 1932 and had five children – three sons and two daughters.

Shah Bano demanded maintenance for her and her five children under Section 123 of the CrPC, which puts a legal obligation on a man to provide for his wife during marriage and after divorce too, if she is unable to fend for herself.

However, Shah Bano’s husband contested the claim saying the Muslim Personal Law required him to provide for her only until the Iddat period.

Iddat is the waiting period a woman must observe after divorce before she marries another man. It is usually supposed to last three months, but is longer if the wife is pregnant.

Khan’s argument was supported by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which said the courts cannot take the liberty to interfere with laws laid out in the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937.

After a series of hearings, the Supreme Court, in 1985, ruled that the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) applies to all Indian citizens regardless of their religion, and that it applied in Shah Bano’s case too.  Besides, the apex court increased the alimony sum to be given to Shah Bano.

What happened next was absolute mockery of Indian constitution just to secure few votes.

The very congress which shouts ‘democracy is in danger’ gave into the Islamic orthodoxy. as it was election year, congress did not want to lose votes of Muslim clergy. They upheld their vote Bank instead of delivering justice a grieving divorced women.

The Congress government, headed by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, overturned Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in 1986 by passing the Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act).

The Act said-

  • maintenance is only liable for the iddat period and that the courts only had the power to direct the Waqf Board for providing alimony to an aggrieving wife who is not able to fend for herself.

 

Even though Shah Bano’s lawyer Danial Latifi challenged the Act’s constitutional validity, the top court upheld it, saying the liability can’t be restricted to the period of iddat.

The Indian Parliament reversed the judgement under pressure from Islamic orthodoxy.

Shah Bano later withdrew the maintenance claim she had filed.

Now when the bill was again taken up for amendment and discussion in Loksabha by NDA government, congress is opposesed the bill, their stand is clear, they do not respect gender equality, or rights of a Muslim woman, they just care for their vote Bank.

Why imprisonment, when supreme court has already declared ‘triple talaq’ void?

  • The triple talaq practice, skews the balance of power in a marriage. Men can use instant talaq as a threat to coerse women.
  • This point is backed by the fact that, muslim women remain powerless mostly because their uneducated and economically diem powered compared to the national average.
  • An India today report revealed, even after Supreme Court declared triple talaq void, talaq-e-bain, to divorce unilaterally, was put into practice. Now by crimilizing any form of talaq, it will balance out a power equation in a marriage.

When most of the Islamic countries have abolished this practice, our power hungry politicians of previous governments never showed guts to work towards Muslim woman empowerment. It’s not hindu or Muslim, it’s empowering women and a chance to exercise their right. It’s not a luxury, it’s a minimum respect every woman deserves

Dr Sindhu Prashanth

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