The marriage rituals may be different, but talaq and alimony should not be discriminative

With 22 Islamic countries having already banned triple talaq and halala and India being a secular country, this disgrace should have long been banned here as well

Dr SB MisraDr SB Misra   10 Aug 2019 6:26 AM GMT

The marriage rituals may be different, but talaq and alimony should not be discriminative

Our senior leader, secularist and socialist Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru had a golden opportunity in the fifties to rid Muslim women of triple talaq and halala when he had the Hindu Code Bill passed and emancipated people from Hindu malpractices.But he overlooked the state of Muslim society, especially of women. The way Nehru was bent on having the Hindu Code Bill cleared, current Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems even more resolved to accord dignity to Muslim women despite not having a majority in Rajya Sabha. Equal citizen code remains still a distant dream.

Although triple talaq ban was not backed by many secularists, the Narendra Modi government got immense boost from the Supreme Court's decision.The Modi government could manage to live up to the expectations of the Constitution and the Supreme Court. It wrote history by deftly garnering majority in the Rajya Sabha. Unlike the Rajiv Gandhi government, it didn't buckle under pressure and as a result would be receiving blessings of innumerable Shah Banos. Modi didn't, after all, have anIslamic scholar and orator like Arif Mohammed.

With 22 Islamic countries having already banned triple talaq and halala and India being a secular country, this disgrace should have long been banned here as well. But even today many civilized secular Parliamentarians have openly opposed the Triple Talaq Bill. Our country having passed legislation on matters of Sati, child-marriage, widow-remarriage, dowry, women's right to paternal property, now stands on the threshold of becoming secular in truer sense of the word.

The Nehru Cabinet should have taken decision regarding enforcement of secular law pertaining to social justice soon after independence and partition. Constitution-maker BR Ambedkar's 'Equal Citizens Code' implicit in Section 44 of the Constitution was a law the Congress government could have enforced anytime it desired suitable. But they refrained from any action and chose to harp instead about secularism.

Due to indifferent policies of the Congress Party, Indian Muslimbecame restless for personal law. It is to be noted that no law is personal save for the bedroom rules. Orthodox Muslims having left for Pakistan, remaining secular Muslims would have readily subscribed to the Uniform Civil Code, had the erstwhile governments so desired.

Various laws pertaining to population control, talaq, multiple marriages, and job-oriented education for children, modernization of madarsas and schools and several such issues have bearing on the society at large whose responsibilityrests with the government running the nation. If we claim to be a secular and socialist state, we can hardly afford to look at the society in fragments. In the event of conflict between our secular Constitution and Islamic Shariya or Manusmriti, the Constitution mustprevail supreme.

The marriage rituals may be different but divorce and alimony should not be discriminative. Despite the Hindu Code Bill, the status of Hindu Women is far from satisfactory. Wherever possible, efforts should be made to pass constitution-abiding laws which uphold the dignity of women as women and men as men. The government may make provisions so that the Muslim women seeking alimony shouldn't have to face a plight similar to Shah Bano and a Hindu couple wishing mutually to dissolve their marriage may be able to do so without unnecessary delay.

Together Muslim and Hindu women managed to register a victory in Haji Ali Shrine Entry Case and have never looked back since then. The Modi government has sought Law Commission's recommendations regarding the possibility of enforcing an equal citizen code, one can only hope for a positive recommendation and formation of a common law.

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