February 6, 2017 3:49:35 am
A MAJORITY of those who had responded to its questionnaire on a uniform civil code, including many Muslims organisations, have opposed spontaneous triple talaq, Law Commission chairperson Justice B S Chauhan has said.
The commission is currently examining the more than 40,000 responses it has received to the questionnaire issued in October 2016.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Justice Chauhan said the larger consensus was that spontaneous triple talaq, as is currently practised, was not in keeping with what was stated in the Shariat, which mandates a three-month iddat period meant for reconciliation and arbitration.
“While we are yet to tabulate the huge number of responses, one thing we have observed is that most people, even among the Muslims, have opposed the practice of spontaneous triple talaq. They have held that iddat period should be observed,” said Chauhan.
The ‘Questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code’ was issued by the law panel around the same time that the Union government filed its response in a Supreme Court case opposing instantaneous triple talaq, and had generated much controversy due to its timing. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board carried out its own mass signature drive and sent it to the Law Commission, opposing any inference in the Shariat even if it is to outlaw the practice of instantaneous triple talaq which is not as prescribed in the Muslim personal law.
Considering the overwhelming response, the Law Commission had extended the deadline for feedback on the questionnaire until the end of December 2016.
Chauhan said, “In December, Justice Mohammad Mustaq of the Kerala High Court delivered a judgment examining the validity of triple talaq and sent it to the Law Commission, referring the matter to us. Those who have been alleging that this exercise carries forward the government’s agenda should understand that with the court order, we are bound to examine the matter now.”
The high court judgment, favouring codification of Muslim divorce laws, held, “The empirical finding establishes that triple talaq as practised in India in almost all the case(s) is not by following Qur’anic injunctions and such practices are allowed in the name of religion, without its backing. The only way out for the State is to find out the meaning of rationale of the personal law and to regulate divorce in accordance with the purpose of law.”
At the same time, Chauhan clarified that the commission is not only looking at triple talaq but at the issue of gender justice in personal laws of all religions, in terms of marriage, divorce, child custody and property rights. “Why are we only talking of triple talaq? Except for certain matriarchal societies, such as those in parts of the Northeast, most women still have no right to agricultural land. We will be looking at gender justice in all aspects of personal law. Never before in India has any law commission sought responses from people. This was a first-of-its-kind experiment. In any developed country, law is made after consultation with stakeholders. After all, enforcement of law depends upon acceptability of law,” he said.
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