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Though a Muslim, I have no problem in saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’- Najma Heptullah

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Minister for minority affairs: Najma Heptullah Image source: blogs.dw.com

New Delhi, April 6 : Terming the controversy related to chanting of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ as “unnecessary and uncalled for”, Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah has said that there was nothing wrong in praising the motherland and religion has nothing to do with this.

 “Whichever country is your ‘vatan’ (motherland) you should be loyal to it,” the minister told IANS in an interview.

Heptullah emphasised that there was some politics behind the controversy and said she herself being a Muslim had no problem in saying ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.

“By saying so I am not doing anything against my religion. My ‘imaan’ (faith) is not that weak. In fact there is no religion involved in it,” she said, adding that even Prophet Muhammad had endorsed this.

“I want to ask every Muslim where would they go after dying?” and answered: “It’s their motherland which would take them in her arms.”

The minister, however, said that there are different ways of showing or expressing loyalty towards the nation.

Commenting on yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s controversial statement where he had said that he would have “beheaded” those who refuse to chant “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” if the law of the land was not there, she said people should refrain from making such comments.

“My freedom of speech must not hurt anybody. We should be careful,” she said.

Asked whether these kinds of statements, which often come from various leaders of the BJP and other people related to it, affect the working and moral of the Modi government, the minister said she was “focused” and other ministers and functionaries were also busy doing their work.

Speaking about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the policies of his government in relation to minority communities, the minister said that the central government was actually doing a lot for every single minority community of the country.

She accused the previous UPA governments of “doing nothing” for any of the minority communities and said they were busy labelling Modi as anti-Muslim.

“Whatever was to be done (for minority communities during Congress-led governments) was not done,” she contended.

Heptullah said 8.6 million scholarships were given to students of minority communities and she was inspired by Modi’s vision for the development of Muslim community — that he would like to see a copy of the Quran in one hand of a madrasa student and a computer in the other hand.

The minister also said that 27 madrasas are working with the central government’s skill development programme.

(Sushil Kumar could be contacted at sushil.k@ians.in)

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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)