This article first appeared in Rightlog.in under the same title on May 23, 2017. The link to that article is here (Click to read)
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s (AIMPLB) submission yesterday (Monday, May 23, 2017) to the Supreme Court where it told the Supreme Court (SC) that Muslim men resorting to ‘Triple Talaq’ will face “social boycott” and that Qazis will be asked to advise bridegrooms at the time of marriage to refrain from this practice is, to put it mildly nothing more than an eyewash. By changing the goalpost and refusing to state categorically that it would abolish the abominable practice of Tripe Talaq the AIMPLB has shown that it continues to be caught in a time warp and refuses to take even the basic steps required to ensure gender equality within its own community.
Last Thursday, just before the SC concluded the hearing on the case and reserved its judgement on the validity of the practice of Triple Talaq, the AIMPLB had submitted before the court that it did not want the practice to continue and that it would come up with a draft advisory on the practice. The salient points of this advisory that was presented to the court yesterday are listed below:
- Qazis (who are Magistrates or Judges of a Sharia Court, an extra constitutional body under Indian law) and/or the person performing the “nikah” will advise the bride and the groom at the time of the marriage. The advice will be to the effect that the bridegroom/man shall not pronounce Tripe Talaq in one sitting as it is undesirable under Shariat law (bold for emphasis)
- Advisory will include a recommendation to cross out the practice of Triple Talaq from the marriage/nuptial contract (nikahnama)
- All disputes between husband and wife should be settled through mutual interaction
Resolution to be issued that will recommend social boycott of those resorting to instant Triple Talaq
- This code of conduct has been issued keeping in mind the tenets of Shariat (bold for emphasis)
The apex court is expected to go over this advisory before taking a decision. On a casual perusal of this advisory one would be tempted to think that this is a shift from the earlier rigid position taken by the AIMPLB where it questioned the authority of the court to adjudicate in a matter of “religion and faith” and had requested the court to allow the Muslim community to find a solution to the issue from within.
However, a more careful consideration of the points would show that this is nothing more than eyewash. The court is examining the validity of Triple Talaq. It is not discussing with the Muslim community on the steps to be taken to make Triple Talaq less rigid. By coming up with an advisory that is nothing more than a reiteration of the practice Triple Talaq and by emphasizing the tenets of Shariat the AIMPLB is in effect cocking a snook at the Constitution of the country, the Executive, and the Judiciary.
This shifting of the goal post and attempt at obfuscation was expected given that the AIMPLB is being represented by such luminaries as Kapil Sibal and Ejaz Maqbool.
Most importantly, Tripe Talaq has no place in a modern, supposedly secular and plural India. Further, it goes against Article-14 of the constitution which guarantees “Right to Equality” and states “…equality before the law and equal protection against discrimination within the territory of India…” (bold for emphasis) and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of Religion, Race, Caste, Place of birth, and Sex.
In an earlier article in Rightlog, we had questioned the validity and authority of an extraconstitutional body like the AIMPLB and highlighted how this practice of Triple Talaq has no basis not just in a modern society but also under the Constitution.
The AIMPLB by refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of the Constitution of India and by continuing to hark back to the Shariat, is playing a dangerous game that threatens to destroy the secular fabric of the country. The Supreme Court and the GOI would be well advised to not fall into the trap of agreeing to this advisory as that would mean an admission of failure and nothing short of a repeat of the Shah Bano episode.
The abolition of Triple Talaq would not only mean “righting” a historic wrong but also be the first step towards the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) which is at the very heart of making India truly secular