Ban on triple talaq: Extension of SC verdict violates special status of Jammu and Kashmir, say Opposition parties

Srinagar: The Supreme Court verdict terming the practice of triple talaq unconstitutional has evoked a controversy in Jammu and Kashmir with both the Opposition parties — National Conference and Congress — terming its extension to the state as an "interference in the religious rights of Muslims" in the state.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has its own laws in civil matters such as divorce and is governed (the only state in India) by the Muslim Personal Law, 2007, which had made Shariah as the basis for divorce and succession rights. The special law could throw a challenge in extending the Supreme Court verdict to Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim majority state of India.

In a rare move, was rare that the government allowed a private members bill to become a law.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

During the PDP-Congress rule in 2007, former minister and National Conference leader Abdul Rahim Rather had moved a private members bill for the state to have its own law, which was passed unanimously in the state Assembly. As per the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Personal Law Application Act, 2007, “The dissolution of marriage including talaq, ila, zihar (and) mubarat, the rule of decision in a case where the parties are Muslims shall be the Muslim Personal Law (Shariah)."

Muslims in Kashmir follow the means provided under Sharia to solemnise marriages. They don’t register marriages and the practice of instant triple talaq has not been an exception but rather the most prevalent means of divorce.

Rather said that the bill was passed with a voice vote in the state Legislative Assembly in 2007 before it was notified as a law. He said that even though former deputy chief minister Muzafar Hussain Beg had argued that "improvements" should be made in the law, it was passed in the House because National Conference held that "there was no scope for improvement in Shariah law".

"We made Shariah as the basis for divorce, but the Supreme Court judgment has rejected it," Rather told Firstpost on Tuesday.

Both the National Conference and Congress (which was part of the then-ruling government in the state along with PDP) have maintained that the Supreme Court judgment on Tuesday was part of a larger Rashtriya Swayansevak Sangh (RSS) agenda to divest the state of its autonomy and to encroach upon the religious rights of Muslims.

National Conference leader, Mustafa Kamal, said that the Supreme Court judgment was an intervention into the religious rights of Muslims. He said that though there have been instances in which the practice of triple talaq has been misused and women were “treated in an inhumane way by Muslims in different parts of India", Kamal reasoned that it should have been left to the Muslims to decide on the practice they need to follow.

Political parties and religious experts have said that though the Supreme Court of India has a jurisdiction over the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Supreme Court judgment can’t encroach upon the religious rights and the special status of the state.

Kamal said that the state government should ensure that a law is passed only in the Assembly to bring any changes in the existing practice of instant triple talaq prevalent among Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir.

Jammu and Kashmir Congress vice-president, GN Monga, also endorses the view that the Supreme Court judgment is part of RSS ideology to erode the special status of the state. He said that part of the Supreme Court judgment has laid the basis for arguments to bring in laws in the Parliament over not just triple talaq but other religious matters of Muslims as well, and that could pave way for the erosion of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

"The PDP-BJP government is following the RSS agenda. It could bring any law in the Parliament and later extend it to the state (of Jammu and Kashmir) through a presidential order which was done to extend the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to the state," he said.

Islamic scholar, Professor Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi, said that Muslims in Kashmir have been deciding on matters of divorce as per the practice laid out in the Quran. He said that the Supreme Court judgment has opened the possibilities for endless interference in the religious rights of Muslims.

Ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader and MLA from Baramulla, Javid Hassan Beg, however, said that the parties claiming that Islam is in danger after the verdict are only indulging in vote bank politics.

"There is a provision in Islam that means of reconciliation should be adhered to in matters of marital discord, and in case they fail in marriage, only then divorce is to be followed as a last resort," he said, adding that India has only joined the other Muslim countries in scrapping the practice of instant triple talaq among Muslims.

Senior BJP leader and MLC, Sofi Yusuf, however, said that there should be no hurdles in extending the verdict to Jammu and Kashmir. He said that a law could be passed in the Assembly to extend the verdict to the only Muslim majority state of India.

In line with his party's ideology, Yusuf said that the practice of instant triple talaq was putting women at disadvantage and that (the women of) Jammu and Kashmir shouldn’t be deprived of the (benefits of the) Supreme Court verdict.

"I have come across cases of women divorced in most inhuman way," he added.

Updated Date: Aug 22, 2017 20:37 PM

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