Do we need a bill criminalising instant Triple Talaq?

Ram Puniyani

A debate is raging in the society about the bill introduced by Modi 2 Government (June 2019). Probably this first major effort by this Government is based on the argument of giving gender justice to ‘Muslim sisters’. Modi 1 had introduced similar bill, this could not become implementable as despite being passed in the Lok Sabha, BJP could not get it passed in the Rajya Sabha, where it did not have a majority. As such this bill of Modi 1, came in the backdrop of the 2017 Supreme Court verdict which regarded instant triple talaq as invalid. The Government argument in the urgency of passing this bill now is that since the bill could not be passed in Modi 1 regime, nearly 200 cases of triple talaq (instant) are reported.

First, I think there is a need to have some clarity about Triple Talaq and the instant triple talaq. As per Koran the triple talaq as the method of divorcing wife. It involves saying talaq once this is followed by a period of time during which the intermediaries from both sides make efforts to make the reconciliation. If there is a failure of this then the talaq is uttered the second time. Again after this there is a period of time in which the effort to reconciliation are made by the people from both sides and if that fails then the third and final talaq is uttrered leading to the separation of the couple. As per Koran  ‘Appoint two arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers, if they wish peace then God will cause their reconciliation (4.35).’ ‘Thus when they fulfill their term appointed, either take them back on equitable terms or part with them on equitable terms and take for witness two persons among you endued with justice and establish the evidence before God. (65.2)’

What is mentioned less often is that women also have the provision of annulling the marriage as per their will by uttering Khula, which is valid as per Koran?

The corrupted clergy, which as such has no religious standing in Islam, which has come up in the society has conned the society on this issue. This clergy has sanctioned the practice of instant triple talaq, which is far away from what Koran says. This practice has seeped deep down, and has been cause of torment for the Muslim women. About the Koranic practice of divorce, the triple talaq, which is a part of Muslim Personal Law, the supreme Court stated,   “The practice (triple talaq) being a component of ‘Personal Law’ has the protection of Article 25 of the constitution. Religion is a matter of faith and not of logic. It is not open to a court to accept an egalitarian approach over a practice which constitutes an integral part of religion.’

The commentators are using the word Triple Talaq, in place of Instant triple talaq, about which Supreme Court has given the verdict and which is also banned in many Muslim majority countries including Pakistan and Bangla Desh. Indian apex Court has already banned it so why the Bill. The cases taking place are in violation of the law of the land and can be dealt with the existing laws which the honourable Court has mandated. Why this Bill on top priority, or why this Bill at all.

The stand of Modi Governments about the plight of Muslim women seems to be mere shedding of crocodile tears. What are the main issues of ‘Muslim sisters’? Muslim men are subjected to lynching on mere suspicion of carrying-eating-trading in beef. Muslims can be killed with impunity while travelling in trains on the suspicion of carrying Tiffin with beef in it. Now Muslim can also be tied to the poles on the suspicion of theft and forced to say Jai Shri Ram, before killing them. We have top leaders amongst BJP who are ever reedy to honour those accused of murders related to cow and beef.

The social common sense is vitiated and the so called fringe elements of Hindu nationalist combine now are picking up Jai Shri Ram as a new communal weapon to intimidate and subjugate the religious minorities. The imbalance in our economy created due to the Holy cow has affected many Muslim households affecting the very life being of our Muslim sisters also. It’s not only the males who suffer when the rampage is on around the identity issues. The women of the household also suffer. As the Government is smartly giving the figures of the women given instant triple talaq, can it please also give the figures of Muslim sisters suffering due to issues like Cow-beef, Love Jihad, Ghar Wapasi and violence around issue of Ram Temple?

And when the government is talking about Gender justice, one while appreciating the concern about this topic, will like to check with the same about the data which shows that as per 2011 data 24 Lakh women have been abandoned by their husbands! Is there a law which can take care of these erring husbands who don’t have the courtesy of going through the divorce process and escaping all the alimony etc.? Is there law to remind these erring husbands about their moral responsibilities? And then why this partiality? A whole lot of Hindu women of menstruating age group are prevented to enter Sabrimala temple on the ground of traditions, violating the Supreme Court order, sending the gender justice for a toss!

The overt concern about Muslim women runs parallel with demonising the Muslim men. While fully respecting the equality of Muslim women one will like to understand that its men and women together from a family. Demonising Muslim men, criminating them (as in this bill also) is no favour to Muslim sisters.

As an aside, Modi 2 NDA has dissidents like JD (U) on the issue, but surely in Modi 2, only hangers on for power will stick around as their differences will not matter in front of the brute majority which BJP enjoys.