The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has written to non-BJP MPs asking them to reject the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, which the board believes is anti-women and against the fundamental rights of an Indian citizen as guaranteed by the Constitution. This comes a day before the Bill is set to be taken up in the Lok Sabha.
The letter, signed by AIMPLB executive member Asma Zehra, argues that the Bill is anti-women as it criminalises an offence that is essentially civil as per Islamic law which will only lead to an increase in the number of abandoned women. According to the letter, the Bill does not answer the question of the livelihood of the woman who has been given instant triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) given that the offending husband will be in jail for a three-year term. “As your party stands as champions of citizens’ constitutional rights and secular credentials, we request you to take active participation in defeating this Bill,” the letter implores.
After the Supreme Court declared triple talaq as unconstitutional, the Law Ministry moved the Bill last year to make instant triple talaq a criminal offence punishable with a three-year jail term. However, the Bill failed to get past a united Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. The Monsoon Session ended with demands to send the Bill to a Select Committee for legislative scrutiny but a consensus could not be reached on the matter. The government then promulgated the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018 in September.
“We have got in touch with all parties who are sensitive to the issues of minorities, TRS, TDP, SP, BSP, Trinamool Congress, Congress, Left etc. We have written to them telling them how this Bill is anti-women and how Muslim women had taken to the streets protesting against it. What is the point of talking to BJP? They are the ones who are pushing this Bill,” Zehra told The Indian Express. She said the board had sought time from leaders of all political parties which it thought were sympathetic to the cause, but a letter is being sent out as the board could not meet all of them.
“When there is no effect of triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) as per Supreme Court judgment dated 22.8.17, why is the husband punished with such severity? This is against human rights, unconstitutional and against principles of natural justice. The proposed Bill making triple talaq an offence with imprisonment of three years is injustice and barbaric to Muslim husbands who are accused of talaq-e-bidat. No other religion or any other customary law in India has any such provision of offence, then why are only Muslim husbands being targeted by the law? The law cannot be selective to one religious group.”