Why We Need to Be Wary of the Govt’s Usage of Triple Talaq for Political Gain

I am seeing many well-intentioned people getting worked up about why the liberals are not supporting the ban on Triple Talaq, seemingly being brought up by the Modi government. They are wondering why we shouldn’t be supporting the Government, even though its credentials are suspect.

You know why? Because this is not something that the Modi government brought in because of its great concern for the plight of Muslim women. This is a case filed by common Muslim women, because of which the Supreme Court has served a notice to the Government and to which the Government had to file a response. As usual, the Modi government jumped on the bandwagon and is now acting as if this is not a passive action but something that it actively contributed to.

You think I’m being petty? Think again. If the Modi government were serious about the plight of women suffering under Triple Talaq, it would have brought a Bill to the effect. And then, we could have applauded the government. A Supreme court notice is something they have to mandatorily respond to. What is so noble about it? Don’t take away the credit from these women the way you did with the army.

Modi pontified in an election rally that the lives of Muslim sisters should not be destroyed by a person pronouncing Talaq over a phone call. First of all, as far as I am concerned, this comment itself reeks of arrogance. Why would you think that a woman’s life would get destroyed just because her husband divorced her? Does a woman stop existing once separated from her husband? But since Modiji and his party have hardly been known for feminism, let’s move on.

What the PM did not tell us in the rally, is that the Supreme court has already explained in the judgement of Shamim Ara vs State Of U.P. & Anr on 1 October, 2002, that a husband cannot just divorce his wife in jest and by instant talaq. The Honorable Supreme court has painstakingly explained the steps by which a Talaq can come to effect. Lawyers, who are fighting for the rights of Muslim women often refer to this judgement by the Supreme court to protect their clients. This is not the first time, Triple talaq has been addressed and the PM is definitely not on his way to invent the wheel. The wheel of justice has long been rolling.

On the other hand, I would like to ask another question to anyone wanting a ban on Triple Talaq. If a man doesn’t want to live with his wife, for any reason whatsoever, how will banning instant Talaq help the woman? If you tell him to give 90 days notice instead, he will do so and then get divorced after the notice period. How does the life of his wife improve by this 90 days’ notice? She will continue to live in a loveless marriage, possibly also abused. On the other hand, a man who would want to live with his wife will continue to work on his marriage, without resorting to on-the-spur divorce. I’m not advocating the use of Triple talaq but I’m wondering if the outrage is for something which necessarily doesn’t in itself bring any added misery to the woman. Take the example of Shayara Bano. She was being mistreated by her husband all through her married life. How would banning triple talaq help her? Would it be better that she continues in this abusive marriage?

What in my opinion is more important to the woman is financial assistance for her living and her children after the divorce; specially, if she is not in a position to support herself. In my view, that is more important than the divorce itself.

Again, the Honorable Supreme court, in Danial Latifi & Anr vs Union Of India on 28 September, 2001, concluded among other things that:

1) a Muslim husband is liable to make reasonable and fair provision for the future of the divorced wife which obviously includes her maintenance as well. Such a reasonable and fair provision extending beyond the iddat period must be made by the husband within the iddat period in terms of Section 3(1)(a) of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986.

2) Liability of Muslim husband to his divorced wife arising under Section 3(1)(a) of the Act to pay maintenance is not confined to iddat period.

3) A divorced Muslim woman who has not remarried and who is not able to maintain herself after iddat period can proceed as provided under Section 4 of the Act against her relatives who are liable to maintain her in proportion to the properties which they inherit on her death according to Muslim law from such divorced woman including her children and parents. If any of the relatives being unable to pay maintenance, the Magistrate may direct the State Wakf Board established under the Act to pay such maintenance.

The Supreme court also observed that the divorced women were entitled to apply for maintenance orders against their former husbands under Section 125 of the CrPC. The expression ‘wife’ u/s 125 of the CrPC includes a woman who has been divorced by, or has obtained a divorce from her husband and has not remarried. The religion professed by a spouse or the spouses has no relevance in the scheme of these provisions whether they are Hindus, Muslims, Christians or the Parsis, pagans or heathens.

So, if the procedure of Talaq and the maintenance to be provided to the wife has already been settled by the honorable Supreme court, there is little groundbreaking achievement that the Modi government can bring about, towards the empowerment of the Muslim women in this aspect.

But what baffles me is the Shayara Bano case which has become the launchpad for this campaign. This woman has been suffering Domestic Violence from which any sensible woman would want to be seperated and the husband penalised. I still cannot understand why, instead of filing a case against the husband under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 and the Prevention of Dowry Act, 1961, the lawyer advised his client to go for an appeal to ban Triple Talaq, Halala and Polygamy. If they are banned, would Shayara Bano get justice?

But well, she can choose whatever rocks her boat.

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