Triple Talaq Bill : Looking beyond rhetoric

Representational Image (The Quint)

By Khushboo Khan,

Recently, the Parliament’s lower house passed “Triple Talaq” bill. The bill moved by the Modi government, seems like an attempt to persecute Muslim community by criminalizing the not so prevalent practice of instant triple divorce.

The move has triggered a heated debate all around and the opposition predominantly claims it as a direct intervention in Muslim personal laws. It is not surprising the bill has been drafted and presented in Lok Sabha by a political dispensation well known for their anti-Muslim stance – which itself raises several questions.

Divorce is the basic right of any individual as is the right to choose one’s partner and to criminalize such right is equal to crushing out the essence of freedom.

Supreme Court on Triple Talaq

In their final verdict Supreme Court’s bench found the practice of “triple talaq” as unconstitutional and non-theological, as well ruled out the possibility of any legislation by Parliament as was suggested by two judges. One of the judges of the Supreme Court’s bench, Justice Joseph said in the given verdict “What cannot be true in theology cannot be protected by the law.

But despite, the declaration of instant triple talaq as invalid by the Supreme Court, the ruling party introduced a new bill in Lok Sabha, that makes the declaration of “Triple Talaq” (instant and procedural) to be void and illegal, and a cognizable offence (if information relating to the offence is given by the woman and her blood or affinal relatives).

Here, second thing that exposed the duality of intention of Bhartiya Janta Party while addressing the issue of Triple Talaq and scraping of IPC 497 is that, latter constrained adultery with the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery as well as per the law women as abettor was exempted from punishment.

So earlier, IPC 497 law was partially anti-women but the latter scraping of IPC 497 turned the scenario and became an apparatus to hit the loyalty and sanctity of marriage. Hence, somehow both the instant triple talaq and scraping of 497 are on same strata and responsible to break down the structure of marriage. On that ruling party, BJP showed a hypocritical attitude while addressing the two similar issues, they paid a great effort to challenge triple talaq and introduced The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 but remain unaddressed the issue of IPC 497 which is more against the spirit of the family & marriage institution.

Triple Talaq in Islam

Even, the most sacred Islamic text Holy Quran and Hadith has clearly invalidated the practice of instant triple talaq, as well provided a prescribed procedure of how to end up a nuptial tie.

Quran described instant triple talaq as Talaq Ul Bidat (the sinful form of divorce) as it is against the spirit of the holy book, whereas Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) found it as invalid practice.

O Prophet! When any of you divorce your wives, divorce them in their period of purity and calculate their period carefully: be mindful of God, your lord. Do not drive them out of their homes-nor should they themselves leave- unless they become openly guilty of immoral conduct. These are the bounds set by the god. He who transgresses God’s bounds wrong his own soul. (Quran, 65:01)

In the case of those of your wives who have passed the age of menstruation, if you have any doubt, know that their waiting period is three months; and that will apply likewise to those who have not yet menstruated; and that will apply likewise to those who have not yet menstruated; and waiting period of those who are pregnant will be until they deliver their burden (give birth). (Quran, 65:04)

“Three divorces were treated as one” during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Caliph Abu Bakr and Caliph Umar’s reign (Sahih-Muslim 9: 3492)”.

In the most significant procedure of Talaq a husband should wait for the period of three menstruation cycle to deliver the divorce. Moreover, the Quran facilitates a woman to choose their spouse and to call off the marriage by the procedure of “Khula”.

Five Islamic schools of thought on Triple Talaq

Basically, the issue of triple talaq has been thoroughy discussed in five schools of thought, whereas in some cases Hanafi school of thought entertained the idea. But the clerics belonging to the particular sect have also accepted the facts that triple talaq was responsible for spreading social evils. Hence, 23 Muslim nations have already banned the practice.

Here, all the schools of thought determined the punishment of instant triple talaq and there are ample resolutions available in the theology to provide the maintenance and means of livelihood to the affected women.

Widowhood and negligence of BJP

Another issue that remained untouched is widowhood; there is massive increase in the rate of widow population. As per the 2011 census report out of 121 crore population 4.6% or 5.6 crore are widowed with women outnumbering men by a long way. The numbers were very low in 2001 census and only 18.5 lakh or 0.7% of the then population of 102 crores was widowed. Despite the high figures and recorded statistics, BJP did not show any interest to empower the 5.6 crore widows of this country.

On the contrary, triple talaq bill has been introduced particularly for the empowerment of Muslim women. However, instead of few, there is no recorded data available on the cases of Triple Talaq (Talaq ul bidat)

Here, the matter of concern is that on February 7, 2018, the Supreme Court asked all the state government for taking effective steps for rehabilitation of widows. But despite the SC direction, BJP government had not taken any affirmative action to rehabilitate and to empower those widows surviving in deteriorating circumstances.

Moreover, on one side Bhartiya Janta Party is trying to address the issue of gender equality and on the other side the issue of 5.6 crore widows’ remains unaddressed, which clearly reflects their unequal attitude and partiality.

The way-out

One cannot deny the fact that triple talaq as a political tool is used due to negligence of All India Muslim Personal Law board who failed to address the issue in the light of Shariah law. It was their responsibility to initiate a research to gather the data of such cases and to invalidate the practice of triple talaq as it is theologically irrelevant. If the BJP government was sincere enough they can collect data in collaboration with All India Muslim personal Law Board and seek out a solution.

Even in the case of Shah bano and other women, it was the sole responsibility of Muslim bodies to address their respective issues and to facilitate them with justice. Muslim Bodies were accountable to introduce a socially appropriate solution, in respect of Shariah.

Despite the verdict of the Supreme Court and Islamic perspective on triple talaq, the ruling party used it as a political tool and depicted themselves as the savior of Muslim women. BJP government had introduced a half cooked bill that was created in absence of any expert committee as well there was lack of statistical figures in this regards. The Indian Government has converted a civil matter into a criminal offence and fixed 3 years of imprisonment if anyone delivers instant talaq to his wife. On the contrary it is only one year as per the Hindu code bill. Hence, while perpetuating the equality among all the women, the BJP government has violated Article 14 of the Indian constitution that promotes the right to equality.


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