Activists who spearheaded the movement against ‘triple talaq’ maintain that they want nothing less than a Muslim personal codified law, and that merely amending the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was not enough. The Centre is considering bringing a legislation in the winter session of Parliament to put an end to the instantaneous way of divorce among Muslims, which is still in practice despite the Supreme Court striking it down.
A ministerial committee has been set up to propose a suitable legislation or amend existing penal provisions, which would make instantaneous triple talaq an offence, government functionaries said today.
“We have been demanding a codified law, a legislative protection. Such a law will take care of polygamy, nikah halala, minimum age for marriage etc. Our demand is not to get into IPC, but a new legislation which is comprehensive and is as per the Quran as well as the Constitution,” said Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA).
In August, the apex court struck down the practice of instantaneous triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ as arbitrary and unconstitutional. The BMMA was one of the petitioners in the matter.
“We cannot have piecemeal legislation. How many more years will women have to wait for a legislation on nikah halala and polygamy? These are also issues that are linked to each other and you cannot have separate laws,” Niaz said.
‘Nikah halala’ refers to the practice wherein a woman has to consummate her marriage with another man if she wants to return to her former husband after a divorce.
Niaz said even if the government was planning to have a Uniform Civil Code, it must first bring a comprehensive Muslim personal law as “it will require a much wider debate and will take a longer time, in the meantime, Muslim women will not wait for a long drawn debate”.
Zakia Soman, other founder of the BMMA, said her organisation has already sent a petition to all women parliamentarians, seeking their support for a codified Muslim personal law.
The NGO had laid down the groundwork for the movement demanding a ban on triple talaq. It carried out a survey in 2015 across 10 states.
As per the study, over 90 per cent of the total 4,499 respondents, wanted a ban on oral and unilateral talaq (divorce) and rejected polygamy.
Nearly 83 per cent of the Muslim women surveyed believed that codification of Muslim family law would help them get justice.
Following this, the BMMA wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2015, demanding codification of Muslim family law.
The NGO also drafted a law prescribing minimum age for marriage, consent as pre-requisite for marriage, arbitration for divorce, declaring polygamy and nikah halala as unlawful and equal inheritance rights for both sons and daughters. The draft was also sent to the prime minister.