New Delhi: A petitioner in the triple talaq case, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), on Thursday came out with a proposal for a Muslim Family Law to govern marriages and divorces in the community on the lines of the Hindu and Indian Christian marriage acts.
The proposed legislation is aimed at ending the practices of polygamy and giving divorce unilaterally. It also describes 'nikah halala' and 'muta' marriages as "invalid" and seeks to make 'nikah halala' a punishable offence.
Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, the petitioners said that the draft of the proposed law will be soon put up on their website for seeking suggestions from people. The draft will also be circulated among women parliamentarians, they said.
"The aim is to bring an act to govern marriages and divorces in the Muslim community on the lines of the Hindu Marriage Act and Indian Christian Marriage Act," said Zakia Soman, co-founder of the BMMA and a petitioner.
While welcoming the Supreme Court's verdict last month in which it held triple talaq among Muslims as "void, illegal and unconstitutional", the BMMA expressed disappointment that the issues of 'nikah halala' and polygamy among Muslims, raised by them, were not taken up during the hearing.
The draft seeks mandatory registration of Muslim marriages, stipulates that the amount paid to a woman as mehr during her wedding shall not be less than one full annual income of the groom and that the bride should not be younger than 18 years and the bridegroom 21 years.
It also defines the responsibilities of the Qazi (cleric) and calls for a Talaq-e-Ahsan method of divorce, a process in which divorce is pronounced once and then the couple waits for a three-month period to sort out differences.
It states that the responsibility of maintaining wife and children, even if she has an independent source of income, should be with husband. It also calls for action under the Code of Criminal Procedure for all those who fail to pay maintenance.
As far as custody is considered, the draft of the proposed legislation states that if the child is not able to take a decision, arbitrators will take a decision on the principle of the best interest of the child.
"The draft is based on the Quran and the Constitution of India," said Noorjehan Safia Niaz, petitioner and co-founder of BMMA.
"As a way forward, till such a legislation comes into effect, we suggest that all police stations be informed that Muslim women who come with complaints of triple talaq must be supported and their husbands be told clearly that the divorce cannot happen now in this arbitrary way," Niaz said
Also, a woman should be allowed to file a case under the Domestic Violence Act if her husband unilaterally divorces her, Niaz said.
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