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India’s Muslim Women criticize justification for Triple Talaq and Polygamy, tag it as ‘medieval’

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the court that triple talaq was necessary, saying men have greater reasoning power compared to women

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Muslim brides wait for the start of their mass marriage ceremony in Mumbai May 11, 2014. A total of 35 Muslim couples took wedding vows during the mass marriage ceremony organised by a Muslim voluntary organisation, organisers said. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui (INDIA - Tags: SOCIETY RELIGION TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR BEST QUALITY IMAGE ALSO SEE: GF2EA830FPC01 - RTR3OO39
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– by Nita Bhalla

NEW DELHI, Sept 07, 2016: Muslim women fighting to ban “triple talaq” divorce and polygamy from family civil law in India’s top court condemned on Tuesday  justifications given by Islamic clerics as “medieval” and “reeking of sexism”.

India’s Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition filed by women’s rights activists who want the judiciary to declare triple talaq – where Muslim men can divorce by simply stating their intention three times verbally – as unconstitutional.

The Indian constitution allows most religions, including  Muslims – the biggest religious minority group – to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a non-governmental body which oversees the application of Muslim personal law, opposes any ban on triple talaq and polygamy.

It told the court on Friday that triple talaq was necessary, saying men have greater reasoning power compared to women, and that a man giving triple talaq to his wife was a better option than murdering her or burning her alive.

The AIMPLB also argued that polygamy was a “social need” and a “blessing” as a lawful second wife was better than an unlawful mistress and added that it gave divorced or widowed women more opportunity to remarry.

“Muslim women in India have suffered because of triple talaq where arbitrary divorces declared over postcards or telegrams have been sustained,” said campaign group Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), or the India Muslim Women’s Movement.

“AIMPLB’s argument that a Muslim man can delegate his power of pronouncing talaq to his wife is laughable – this can hardly be expected to happen in real life if the wife wants a divorce but husband doesn’t,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

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The group said the AIMPLB’s justification for polygamy was “bizarre” as it had suggested the practice of a man having up to four wives stemmed from a concern and sympathy for women.

“The truth is Muslim personal laws – like other religious laws – flow from patriarchy and relegate women to second class status,” said the BMMA.

It said triple talaq had been banned in more than 20 Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh while polygamy was prohibited in Turkey and Turkmenistan among other countries.

Muslims make up more than 13 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion people, yet they are among some of the most marginalised communities.

Social indicators amongst Muslim women such as literacy, mortality and employment rates are lower than the national average, say activists.

Triple talaq is unilateral, arbitrary and contravenes both the constitution and the principles of gender justice in Islam, BMMA said. In India, a secular democracy, religious laws could not overwrite the constitutional right to equality, it added. (Reuters)

 

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  • Manthra koliyer

    Polygamy should not be encouraged

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For Plea Against Polygamy Supreme Court Takes Centre’s Response

personal laws must meet the test of constitutional validity and constitutional morality

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a fresh plea that challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims in India.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a fresh plea that challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims in India. Flickr

The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought a response from the Centre on a fresh plea that challenged the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims in India.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud issued the notice to the Centre and tagged the plea with similar petitions pending before it.

The fresh plea filed by Women Resistance Committee Chairperson Nazia Ilahi Khan, a practicing advocate at the Calcutta High Court, has challenged the practice of polygamy, ‘nikah halala’, ‘nikah mutah’ (temporary marriage among Shias) and ‘nikah misyar’ (short-term marriage among Sunnis) on the grounds that these were violative of the Constitution’s Articles 14, 15 and 21.

Under ‘nikah halala’, if a Muslim woman after divorce by her husband three times on different instances, wants to go back to him, she has to marry another person and then divorce the second husband to get re-married to her first husband.

“Declare the dissolution of the Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution in so far as it fails to secure for the Indian Muslim women the protection from bigamy which has been statutorily secured for Indian women from other religions,” said her plea filed through advocate V.K. Biju.

The apex court has been hearing pleas filed by Sameena Begum, Nafisa Khan, Moullium Mohsin and BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay on the issue.

Article 14 guarantees equality before law, Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and Article 21 guarantees protection of life and personal liberty.

Telling the court that though different religious communities are governed by different personal laws, Upadhyay had contended that “personal laws must meet the test of constitutional validity and constitutional morality in as much as they cannot be violative of Articles 14, 15, and 21”.

Pointing to the “appalling” affect of polygamy and other such practices on the Muslim women, senior counsel Mohan Parasaran had earlier told the apex court that the 2017 judgment holding instant ‘triple talaq’ as unconstitutional had left these two issues open and did not address them.

Polygamy, Man along with his 5 wives
Polygamy, Man along with his 5 wives. Flickr

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar (since retired), by a majority judgment in 2017, had said: “Keeping in view the factual aspect in the present case, as also the complicated questions that arise for consideration in this case (and, in the other connected cases), at the very outset, it was decided to limit the instant consideration to ‘talaq-e-biddat’ or triple talaq.

Also read: Goa Common Civil Code forbids neither Oral Divorce nor Polygamy among Muslims: Governor

“Other questions raised in the connected writ petitions, such as polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ (and other allied matters), would be dealt with separately. The determination of the present controversy may, however, coincidentally render an answer even to the connected issues.” (IANS)