Source of injustice removed for ever

Author: 
Harihar Swarup

The Supreme Court made history when in a landmark 3-2 verdict, it 'set aside' the centuries-old practice of instant triple talaq  in which Muslim men divorce their wives by uttering 'talaq, talaq, talaq' in quick succession. The apex court thus ended a source of injustice that put certain sections of Sunni Muslim women at great disadvantage. By a 3:2 majority SC ruled that this form of talaq is “manifestly arbitrary”, allowing marital ties to be “capriciously whimsically” broken by a Muslim man, and violated Article 14 of the Constitution guaranteeing equal protection of law to men and women. With no chance for reconciliation, many Muslim women have found themselves destitute, with no recourse available in civil law.
It is now for the BJP-led NDA government to act fast and in six months time, during which the SC verdict is operative, bring up a detailed legislation to end forever the obnoxious practice of triple talaq. It is a matter of regret that when every Muslim country has legally prohibited triple talaq, in India Muslim Personal Board and its supporters defended this shameful practice. Muslim countries which abolished triple talaq include Bangladesh and fanatically Islamic nation Pakistan. Among other Muslim countries are Indonesia, Afghanistan and Turkey.
The Person Law Board is a body of clerics, and history shows that they take longer than normal to move ahead with times. In his famous speech Mustafa Kamal Pasha, the leader of Turkey, blamed the Muslim clergy for social and educational backwardness of the community.
It is to be noted that Arif Mohammad Khan famously quit in protest as minister of state in Rajiv Gandhi government after the enactment of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act in 1986, which overturned the Supreme Court’s historic Shah Bano judgment, the last such landmark case on Muslim women preceding the Supreme Court’s latest 3:2 judgment which has ruled instant talaq unconstitutional.
Arif Khan says the abolition of triple talaq by SC is a big victory. "I welcome this verdict. I honestly feel that we are not in a position today to make a realistic assessment of the positive fallout this judgment would have on future of Muslims. The real problem is that a Muslim girl grows with this consciousness that after marriage her husband can turn her out of the house by simply saying triple talaq. This was really oppressive for Muslim women. This apparent law on triple talaq had distorted the minds of the Muslim world. Now, they will see a new Muslim community growing up in India which will not have the fear of triple talaq among them."
The few Muslim women who fought against triple talaq are:
Shayara Bano, 38, is a resident of Kashipur, Uttarakhand. She was divorced through a speed post on October 10, 2015, after 15 years of marriage to a property dealer Rizwan Ahmed. Bano, a mother of two children, who were taken away from her after divorce, said she was tortured and abused by her in-laws for dowry and made to undergo six abortions. A post gradiate in sociology, now pursuing MBA, Bano said she would take up a job and continue her fight for the rights and dignity of Muslim women.
Shayara filed a petition in the Supreme Court against triple talaq. The BJP-led NDA filed an affidavit in the apex court against triple talaq based on the petition. She hopes her daughter doesn’t go through the sad experience that she did.
Ishrat Jahan, Howrah, West Bengal. Triple talaq pronounced over phone in 2014, Married at 15. She had four children before her husband S K  Murtaza summarily divorced her over  phone. Clad from head to toe in burqa, Ishrat is a pious Muslim women and would have stayed a home maker had she not been thrust into the legal fight by her husband’s actions.
Parveen refused to accept the notice, after which her husband moved a family court. She says she and her two-year-old son were suddenly homeless after her husband’s whim to divorce her. Parveen’s husband lived in Noida, where he worked, while she stayed with her in-laws in Rampur. She says she was tortured for dowry. Her husband was arrested last year on charges of dowry harassment and criminal intimidation. Parveen is a post-graduate in English literature and now lives in Delhi. She filed a petition in SC against triple talaq that was clubbed with Shyara Bano’s plea.      
Atiya Sabri, 38, lives in Saharanpur, U.P. She was divorced on a piece of paper. A post graduate in sociology, she was married in 2012 to Wazid Ali. She objected when her husband gave her talaq on a piece of paper and moved the court. Her in-laws got a decree from Deoband justifying talaq. Later she filed a dowry harassment case against her in-laws. Her husband and father-in-law were arrested. Sabri has two daughters, aged 3 and 4. Her plea was that the talaq given to her cannot be justified. “I need justice as I have to raise my daughters”, she pleaded. She approached the Supreme Court in January challenging her divorce.
Triple talaq notice came to 27-year-old Aafreen Rehman by speed post. Her Indore- based lawyer husband, Syed Ashar Ali Waris, wrote talaq three times and posted it to her via speed post less than two years after their wedding in 2014. On Sept 27, 2015, Afreen was shown the door after being thrashed by her husband over petty issues. She filed a petition in Supreme Court in May 2016.
There are innumerable cases like the ones mentioned. Modi government will do a great service to the Muslims community if it promptly brings up a detailed legislation to end forever the obnoxious practice of triple talaq. (IPA)

Tuesday, 5 September, 2017