Women's groups support law declaring triple talaq illegal, but suspect BJP's motive, contest Personal Law Board's view

Written by Sabrangindia Staff | Published on: November 23, 2017

Proposed legislation on triple talaq interference in Shariah laws, says Muslim Personal Law Board

The Union government’s plan to bring in a new law to end triple talaq is nothing but interference in Shariah law, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has stated in a press release. The statement adds that the proposed law is in violation of the right to freedom of religion guaranteed to minorities under the Indian constitution.

Issued by the secretary and spokesman of the Board, Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, the statement said, “Talaq is a religious issue. Once divorced a woman becomes haraam (prohibited) for her husband. Making triple talaq (instant divorce) illegal will mean that the divorced couple will be forced to stay in the relationship. This will put them in a situation which according to Islam is a grave sin, amounting to illicit sex”.

Muslim and other secular women’s organizations contest the Board’s claim that divorce is a religious issue. They are all in favour of a law declaring the practice of instant triple talaq as illegal. However, many suspect the BJP-led NDA government’s motive behind the ‘hasty’ move and are in principle opposed to criminalization of any aspect of family law.  

The Board’s statement said triple talaq is a highly undesirable practice, a misuse of the provision in Shariah law on divorce. However, misuse of a law cannot be a pretext for doing away with the law itself. Citing the provision for declaration of an Emergency under certain circumstances, the statement said the provision was misused in 1975. Despite this, even the opposition which was fiercely opposed to the imposition of Emergency did not scrap the Constitutional after coming to power.

The Board itself is opposed to the misuse of the triple talaq provision and is running a countrywide campaign against the practice, the statement added.  
“In principle we fully support the enactment of a law that makes triple talaq or instant divorce illegal. However, we strongly suspect the intention and the haste with which the government wants to bring in the new legislation,” said Hasina Khan of the Bebaak Collective, an umbrella body of several women’s groups.

The Collective challenges the government’s claim that its decision to move a Bill now is based on feedback that triple talaq is continuing across the country even after being set aside by the Supreme Court in August. “What monitoring have they done? Which Muslim women’s groups have they consulted? In which state? No space has been given for consultation with Muslim women’s organizations,” Khan told Sabrang India.

In view of the above, the Bebaak Collective is deeply suspicious of the government’s proposed move, doubly so in view of the talk of criminalizing the triple talaq practice. “We are in principle opposed to criminalizing any aspect of family law for any community. Marital relations are after all a civil matter.”

The Bebaak Collective is equally opposed to the stand of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board that talaq is a religious issue. “The Board is nothing but an empty balloon without credibility. They are using the legitimate fear the community has of the BJP/RSS to raise the religion bogey”, said Khan.

While the CPM-affiliated All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) too is generally suspicious of the BJP-led central government’s intent, it has decided to wait for the government’s draft before responding.

“Let the government come out with its draft. Let’s see what it has and we will respond accordingly,” AIDWA general secretary, Mariam Dhawale told Sabrang India.
As for the Board’s views on triple talaq, Dhawale said her organization has consistently opposed the practice and has actively helped individual Muslim women victim’s fight for justice. “In fact, the Board’s position is self-contradictory. It legitimizes triple talaq even while it considers it to be a repugnant practice”, said Dhawale.

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) has reportedly been meeting Parliamentarians from different parties to canvass support for a law aimed at comprehensive codification of Muslim Personal Law just as personal laws of other communities is codified. Meanwhile, it reportedly supports the enactment of a law making triple talaq illegal as a step in the right direction.