Formulate Muslim family law, urges Muslim women's group as Modi govt plans to introduce new law to ban triple talaq
With the Centre planning to introduce a new legislation to outlaw instantaneous triple talaq, Muslim women groups renewed the call urging the government to look at the need for Muslim family law.
With the BJP-led Centre planning to introduce a new legislation to outlaw instantaneous triple talaq in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament, members of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan renewed the call urging the government to look at the need for Muslim family law.
At the recently concluded 11th Annual Convention of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) in Jaipur, women gathered from different states sought government action to end the legal discrimination by them. While welcoming Centre's move to form a ministerial committee to consider a law against triple talaq, which the Supreme Court set aside in its judgment on 22 August, BMMA said other issues such as nikah halala, polygamy, age of marriage, custody of children etc. remain unaddressed.
Citing the existence of separate family laws for those from other religions (Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; Hindu Succession Act, 1956), BMMA members hope for a separate Muslim family law to be tabled in Parliament this Winter Session.
The Narendra Modi-led Centre has appointed a ministerial panel to frame a law which would make instantaneous triple talaq an offence, in keeping with the apex court's judgement, which had banned the practice for six months and asked Parliament to bring in a law to that effect. According to their press release, the practice of triple talaq continues despite the Supreme Court judgment. "This situation can be resolved through a codified Muslim family law based on the Quran and in consonance with the Constitutional principles of justice and equality," as per the BMMA statement.
"Now, Muslim women will be able to enjoy their fundamental rights and have a codified law that will guarantee them their fundamental rights. Just like the Hindu personal law which has legal backing, the law for muslims should have the same," Noorjehan Niaz of the BMMA, a another petitioner in the triple talaq case had said earlier.
According to BMMA, "orthodox and patriarchal males have dominated" the debate on rights of Muslim women and have stone-walled any attempt towards reform in Muslim personal law. "In the process the Muslim women have been denied their Quranic rights as well as their rights as equal Indian citizens," read the statement.
They further added for justice for Indian Muslim women can be achieved either through amendments to the Shariat Application Act, 1937 as well as the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 or a completely new enactment of Muslim personal law. Unlike India, almost all Muslim nations around the world such as Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Bangladesh and Pakistan have codified personal laws governing marriage and family matters.
BMMA has also come up with draft law stating a list of factors the government must keep in mind while formulating a Muslim family law:
- Divorce: Talaak-e-Ahsan to be method of divorce requiring mandatory arbitration over a 90 day period involving both parties; any man indulging in unilateral divorce should be penalised through a fine and/or punishment as per the provisions of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, and anti-cruelty provisions of IPC especially Section 498 (Enticing or taking away or detaining with criminal intent a married woman).
- Polygamy: Make it illegal; any man taking another wife should be penalised as per the Sections 494 (Marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife), 495 (Concealment of former marriage), 498A (Husband or his relative subjecting wife to cruelty) of IPC.
- Halala: Make it an offence severely punishable under Domestic Violence Act and by provisions under Section 498A of IPC. Nikah halala is a form of Islamic marriage where a divorced woman marries another man, consummates the marriage, gets a divorce in order to remarry her previous husband.
- Age of Marriage: For girls it must be 18 years and for boys, 21 years. Provisions under POCSO to apply.
- Muta marriage: 'Pleasure marriage' where two people enter into a verbal, temporary marriage contract should be made an offence severely punishable under provisions of Domestic Violence Act and provisions of IPC especially Section 498A.
- Consent: Consent of both parties must be obtained without force or fraud.
- Minimum mehr: It should be equivalent of one full annual income of the groom to be paid at the time of nikaah.
- Custody of children: It must be for both mother and father, the natural guardians of the child. Decision of the child’s custody should be agreed upon based on the decision of the child and in the best interests of the child. Any violation of forcibly taking away the child will invite relevant sections of the IPC.
- Property: Equal share in property for women.
The Winter Session of Parliament is set to begin on 15 December and end on 5 January.
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