The Union of India’s stand before the Supreme Court opposing the practice of irrevocable talaq (divorce) in the Muslim community has come at a juncture when the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is being debated. As reported first by Narada News, the Central Government took the stand against the practice on the ground of gender equality and justice, by filing an affidavit on Friday stating that triple talaq is not an essential religious practice in Islam. It also advocated that talaq is “misplaced in a secular country.”
The Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance on the issue of talaq and whether it violated gender equality. The Central government said in a “secular country” like India, the “dignity of women” is “non-negotiable” and even several Islamic nations have effected changes in their laws to introduce this provision of justice. The practice of triple talaq has become so pernicious in India that Muslim women have come to be divorced through SMS and Facebook messaging.
However, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said the court could not interfere in the religious freedom of minorities. The petition considered by the Supreme Court also involves the question of ‘halala’, stipulating that the divorced woman would go back to her husband only after she consummates her marriage with another man.
One of the petitioners in the case, Zakia Soman, who is among the founding members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), said: “Triple talaq is not valid as per the Quran, which stresses mediation and reconciliation before the decision to divorce.”
The Shah Bano case in the mid-1980s might have changed some minds but it cannot put the clock back. Now Shaista Amber said once the word talaq has been uttered thrice, “maulanas say that the divorce has been effected and you are out”. This is not done.
Also, the All-India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) is threatening to file a petition in the Supreme Court demanding a ban on triple talaq and those that are given over email, SMS or by post on a postcard of 15 naia paise.
“Often when a man gives talaq in a fit of rage but regrets it afterward, and the couple has no option of going back because the Maulana says divorce has happened. We want that to change,” said Shaista Amber, president of the AIMWPLB. At the same time, she clarified that the board is not in favor of a uniform civil code.