The issues of triple talaq and Uniform Civil Code are being “raked up” by the BJP for gains in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, a women’s body on Wednesday said while accusing the All India Muslim Personal Law Board of “playing into the hands” of the saffron party by helping it to polarise people.
The body said the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is “just a NGO” that does not represent the entire Muslim community, adding that it will urge the Chief Justice of India to ensure all stakeholders are heard by court in a case in this regard, rather than just the Board.
The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) demanded that the practice of ‘triple talaq in one sitting’ must be abolished, even as it maintained that personal laws in all religions, including Hinduism and Christianity, need reforms to ensure justice and equality to women. This, they said, must be done without disrespecting any religion.
“The Law Commission has made the move of seeking feedback on whether triple talaq should be abolished and if UCC should be made option without any prior scientific study.
“It has done this at the behest of BJP, merging the two different issues. All this is being done with BJP’s eyes on UP elections,” NFIW general secretary Annie Raja told reporters here.
On the AIMPLB’s stand that the Commission’s move involving triple talaq aims at targeting religious practices of Muslims, Raja accused the Board of helping BJP polarise people communally.
“We plan to approach the CJI to urge him to hear all stakeholders rather than just the AIMPLB in a court matter to this regard,” she said.
The NFIW said the right of divorce should be given to Muslim women as well and should they be allowed to pronounce the word ‘talaq’ thrice, each time at a gap of one month and ten days, in the presence of two adult witnesses and the “divorce should be binding”.
The organisation also opposed the practice of ‘Halala’ that is followed in Islam when a man and woman wish to remarry after divorcing each other.
Halala is in interim, obligatory ‘nikah’ with another man and subsequent talaq from him that has to take place for the divorced couple to marry again.
The NFIW demanded laws to ensure that a divorced woman gets maintenance for herself till she marries again and support their children, if any, till they attain adulthood.
“…it is immediately put forward that the demand (for reforms) should come from the community. Well, now the Muslim women are asking for these changes and a male dominated AIMPLB is threatening them and trying to crush their lawful demands,” the NFIW alleged in a statement.
Meanwhile, a lecturer from Ahmedabad, Mubeena Quraishi, and a Lucknow-resident, Mumtaz Fatima, also briefed the press, sharing their experiences regarding divorce and demanded reforms in personal laws.
Sharing her experiences with regard to the triple talaq, Mubina said she had to struggle for five years to get divorce from her erstwhile husband under the personal laws, which she insisted, need reforms.
“For past five years, I struggled to get divorce with my in-laws, family and even the maulvis opposing it. I was denied Khula, saying it was banned in India. Finally, I approached a court in July this year and got mutual divorce. The point is I had to struggle for these many years. We need reforms,” Mubina said.
Fatima, meanwhile, said she was divorced by her husband who pronounced word talaq thrice over phone. Besides her, her two sister in-laws were also divorced in the same manner by their respective husbands, she claimed.
“Following the talaq, I approached many people including maulvis, but it did not help. We approached some women organisations which helped us in going back to our home. But that led to fights. The personal laws were not of any help to three of us. There is a need for reforms which give equal rights to both women and men,” she said.
Fatima, who is currently fighting legal battles over domestic violence against her husband and also seeking maintenance to raise her lone son, opposed the practice of Halala, terming it as “unjust”.
On 7 October, the Law Commission had sought public opinion on whether the practice of triple talaq should be abolished and whether the Uniform Civil Code should be optional, triggering a controversy.
In an appeal, the Commission said the objective behind the endeavour is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices even as it assured the people that the “norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms”.