Relieved, Muslim MPs say court leaves no role for govt

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Relieved, Muslim MPs say court leaves no role for govt

AS THE Supreme Court struck down the practice of instant triple talaq, there was a sense of relief among most Muslim Members of Parliament, as the majority verdict of the apex court had not lobbed the ball to the government’s court and asked it to enact a legislation. They were also relieved that the court confined its verdict to triple talaq, and did not interfere with Muslim personal law.

Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMIM, the Lok Sabha MP from Hyderabad, in fact said the verdict has thrown a spanner in the plans of NDA government to bring in uniform civil code (UCC). He said the lack of unanimity among the judges shows how contentious the issue is.

Owaisi said: “In court, former attorney general Mukul Rohatgi had argued for doing away with all forms of talaq…. In fact, that scared the petitioners, who said they only want talaq-e-biddat (instant talaq) and nikah halala (which requires a woman to marry and sleep with another man in order to return to her first husband) to go. That is when the cat was out of the bag — had all forms of talaq been declared unconstitutional, they (BJP) would have used it as a ploy to introduce UCC.

“They do not know that women from the Northeast have moved the court saying they should be allowed to continue with the practice of polyandry. What kind of law can this government bring? How can we trust them?” Welcoming the verdict, former minority affairs minister and Rajya Sabha MP K Rahman Khan said that instant triple talaq is not a part of Islam. “This judgment is not an interference in personal law. It is only making a practice which is not in accordance with Quran as unconstitutional,” he said.

“The minority judgment had spoken about Parliament enacting a law. After the majority judgment, there is no need for a law now….they (Central government) should not interfere once it has been clarified. They need not make a law,” Khan said.

Congress MP from Kerala M I Shahnawaz said he is “very happy” that the court confined itself to triple talaq. “Even the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has said those who indulge in triple talaq would be socially boycotted. But the judgment cannot be misused…then the situation will change.” He said there will be strong protests if the government tries to interfere with personal law. “This cannot be the first step for destroying Islamic faith and bringing in a UCC…it will never be tolerated,” he said. “In the name of banning triple talaq, the BJP cannot, and the courts shall not, take a step in imposing uniform civil code, which is based on their (Hindu) faith. Faith is supreme,” he said.

Congress’s Husain Dalwai, however, differed with others and urged the Centre to “initiate a widespread multi-stakeholder consultation process on bringing in place a law which protects the sanctity of personal laws, and at the same time is just, fair and protects the rights of all parties concerned”.

JD(U) MP Ali Anwar Ansari said the verdict should be “taken positively” by the community, as the order is “in sync with the tenets of the Quran”. “The Supreme Court order brings to an end only triple talaq given at one time, and not talaq or triple talaq itself,” he said. Majid Memon of NCP expressed satisfaction that the Supreme Court acknowledged the theory of separation of powers by pushing the sensitive matter to Parliament, the law-making body. “Parliament will now examine all aspects…and adopt the most appropriate course suitably,” he said.

Owaisi, an executive member of AIMPLB, said, “In India, a majority of Muslims follow the Hanafi school — it is a sin to divorce one’s wife but divorce still takes place. The society still accepts it, although data shows that is practised by a miniscule fraction. Everyone seems to be forgetting the 2002 verdict of SC in the Shemim Ara case, where the court had ruled that talaq, where the cause is not just and one which is not preceded by arbitration, is not valid.”

Congress Rajya Sabha MP Mohammed Ali Khan said the verdict has to be accepted by all, and that those who argue there should be no interference in Muslim laws also have a responsibility to ensure that personal laws are being implemented in letter and spirit.

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