Tuesday January 23, 2018
Home India Supreme Court...

Supreme Court’s Decision to Ban “Triple Talaq” is a big Relief for India Muslim Women

The judgment of the Supreme Court said that triple talaq was "not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality."

0
//
64
Triple talaq
Activists of various social organisations hold placards during a protest against "Triple Talaq" in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (VOA)
Republish
Reprint
  • The judgment of the Supreme Court is being hailed as a huge victory for India’s Muslim women
  • A panel of five judges representing India’s major faiths, namely, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism, delivered the verdict by a 3-2 majority on Tuesday
  • The judgment said it was arbitrary to allow a man to “break down marriage whimsically and capriciously.”

In a judgment that is being hailed as a huge victory for India’s Muslim women, the country’s Supreme Court has ruled that the controversial practice of instant divorce is unconstitutional and un-Islamic.

“Triple talaq” as practiced in India, allowed Muslim men to unilaterally divorce their wives by saying the word “talaq,” or divorce, three times.

A panel of five judges representing India’s major faiths — Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism, delivered the landmark verdict by a 3-2 majority on Tuesday.

ALSO READIf discriminatory Triple Talaq struck down, then new Divorce Law will come, Centre tells Supreme Court

The judgment said that triple talaq was “not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality.” They said it was arbitrary to allow a man to “break down marriage whimsically and capriciously.”

Muslim clerics, however, had staunchly opposed overturning “triple talaq” saying that although the practice was undesirable, it was sanctioned by the Quran and courts could not interfere in matters that pertain to religion.

Zafaryab Jilani of the powerful All India Muslim Personal Law Board said the consequences of the court decision remain to be seen. “How far it will help the women, how far it will go against them?” he told a reporter.

Many Muslim clerics and leaders have called the campaign to overturn the practice a political ploy by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to take away Muslim identity.

PM Voices Support

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has voiced support for putting an end to the Muslim divorce practice, saying it is necessary to correct an injustice to Muslim women.

The country’s Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, called it an important step forward. “Traditions are not set in stone and have to change with times and the time has come to give women equality,” she said.

In India, which has a secular constitution, each religion is allowed to have separate laws governing marriage, succession, adoption, and maintenance. Muslims are the country’s largest minority and have long said the court cannot interfere in these matters.

Abrupt end of marital life

In recent years, there had been growing complaints from Muslim women that three brief words, “talaq, talaq, talaq,” abruptly ended their marriage via conversation, letter, phone messages and WhatsApp, giving them no voice in an important decision.

The co-founder of the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement, Zakia Soman, told VOA that it was a happy day for Muslim women who have suffered for the last 70 years. “The expectations of thousands of women were associated with this (case). So many have been eagerly awaiting to hear something positive from the Supreme Court.”

But she says the ruling marks just the beginning of a long battle for a social reform movement and gender justice for Muslim women in a range of areas such as property and inheritance rights and age of marriage of girls.
“It’s not now that everything is done. Armed with this judgment and some kind of legal protection, at least the mindset about legal rights for Muslim women has become accepted”, she said. (VOA)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 NewsGram

Next Story

Triple Talaq: Are the concerns and efforts real?

It cannot be deied that BJP is outlawing triple talaq to gain political mileage both from sections of Muslim women and from those Hindus who will see it as Modi's distress over the sufferings of Muslim women and as a message to Muslims that the days when they were given excessive leeway by less assertive governments are now gone.

0
//
25
Triple Talaq continues to plague lives of Muslim women, VOA News
Triple Talaq continues to plague lives of Muslim women, VOA News
  • Triple Talaq has been seen as way of BJP gaining popularity among Muslims, and not as a real concern for the distressed women of the community.
  • BJP leaders are often accused of Anti-Muslim statements, which further proves the point.
  • However, if the law is passed, it will be a step towards empowerment of the Muslim women.

Only the naive will believe that deep concern for the welfare of Muslim “sisters” and for the maintenance of the “dignity of women” and “gender equality” persuaded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to introduce the bill in parliament to ban the practice of triple talaq.

For a party whose founder in its previous incarnation, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, thought that only a civil war can solve the Hindu-Muslim problem, as Tripura’s Governor, Tathagata Roy of the BJP, reminded us recently, and a BJP candidate in the Gujarat elections sought a reduction in the numbers of “topi and dadhiwalas” (sartorial allusion to Muslims), it strains credulity to believe that it has been guided solely by laudable motives to put an end to an admittedly reprehensible custom.

The belief will persist, therefore, that it is a desire to “garner votes” which is behind the decision, notwithstanding Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad’s disavowal of such an intention.

Few will deny, of course, that the practice itself is highly condemnable, not least because it is illegal even in Islamic countries. For a secular country, therefore, to allow it to prevail will point to a flawed outlook whose roots lie deep in the political calculations.

It cannot be gainsaid that the BJP is outlawing triple talaq to gain political mileage both from sections of Muslim women and from those Hindus who will see the proposed law, first, as an example of “brother” Modi’s distress over the sufferings of Muslim women and, secondly, as a message to Muslims in general that the days are gone when they were given excessive leeway by less assertive governments.

The “secular” rulers of the past, on the other hand, also thought that they will gain votes by pandering to the predilections of the obscurantists among the minorities.

The worst example of this regressive attitude was the Shah Bano episode, when the Rajiv Gandhi government negated a Supreme Court verdict in favour of alimony for a divorced Muslim woman on the advice of Muslim fundamentalists.

Shayara Bano case was one of the biggest milestone cases in history of India which intensified the previously buried matter. Wikipedia Common
Shayara Bano case was one of the biggest milestone cases in history of India which intensified the previously buried matter. Wikipedia Common

The BJP’s rise from the sidelines of politics to the mainstream, can be traced through that event in the mid-1980s. The Congress will have to tread carefully in deciding on its stance on the bill which has followed the Supreme Court’s recent declaration of triple talaq as unconstitutional in a case involving the litigant, Shayara Bano.

The difficulty for the Congress is that it has given secularism a bad name by making the concept virtually synonymous with minority appeasement. While the BJP will not mind being closely associated with Hinduism, the Congress has been trying to shed the impression that it has become “mussalmanon ki party” or a party of Muslims, as the Congress leader, Ashok Gehlot, has said, ever since the 2014 defeat made him aware of this unwelcome image, as the A.K. Antony report pointed out.

The triple talaq bill gives it an opportunity to refurbish its reputation by articulating a rational position on drafting the law, aiming at protecting Muslim women from cruel and whimsical divorces and at the same time ensuring that the legislation does not lead to a police witch-hunt targeting men. Since the bill has to still pass through the Rajya Sabha, Parliament’s upper house, there is ample scope for fine-tuning it for smoothing out the rough edges, the most egregious of which is to introduce an element of criminality in a civil legal procedure.

If the Congress and other “secular” parties play a leading role in ensuring that the new law will unequivocally serve the ends of justice where no one — neither the women, nor the men, nor the children of divorced parents — will suffer, then these parties will be able to retrieve much of their lost reputation about cynical kowtowing to bigots in the Muslim community and reassure the country in general that politics can rise above partisan and opportunistic considerations.

From this standpoint, the bill provides a golden opportunity to the secular outfits even if the BJP runs away with much of the credit for introducing it.

Outside of politics, what is noteworthy is the failure of the Muslims to deal with the problem on their own. But ever since partition robbed the community of bold, educated leaders and self-confidence by inducing the minority complex of being forever under siege under the numerically superior Hindus — unlike other minorities like Sikhs and Parsis who have retained their poise and self-belief — the Muslims have come under the retrogressive influence of the mullahs with the result that they have remained stuck in the past.

Not all Muslim have the freedom to do whatever they want. They are still in the clutches of Triple Talaq.
Not all Muslim have the freedom to do whatever they want. They are still in the clutches of Triple Talaq.

Triple talaq is one manifestation of such backwardness along with polygamy and the veiling of women as they reinforce the age-old patriarchal norms. Only a small section of upper middle class women — film stars and sports personnel being prominent among them — has been able to extricate themselves from the grasp of medievalism and enter the modern world. But the majority of the poor and lower middle class women have been denied the opportunity of advancement by orthodox Muslim society. The new law offers them a ray of hope. IANS Live