Uniform Civil Code not good for our nation: AIMPLB
EP Desk: The Muslim Personal Law Board, the central board of Indian Muslims on religious affairs has criticized the centre for trying to deprive the Muslims of the country of their religious rights in the garb of bringing reforms in the Muslim community by abolishing triple talaq and polygamy. Recently, two women in different cases of divorce have filed writ petitions in the Supreme Court requesting the judiciary to abolish triple talaq and polygamy. The Supreme Court asked the central government to submit its reply on the issue. The central submitted its response to the Supreme Court stating that "practices of triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala cannot be regarded as essential part of religion and hence get no protection under fundamental right to religion."
The AIMPLB has reacted strongly to the centre's response to the court declaring it an attack on the fundamental rights of the minorities. Briefing the press, Maulana Wali Rahmani said that the centre's response to the Supreme Court was an attempt by the government to deprive the Muslims of their religious rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.
"We are living in this country with an agreement held by the constitution. The constitution has made us live and practice our religion. In America everyone follows their personal laws and identity, how come our nation doesn't want to follow their steps in this matter?" Maulana Rahmani said.
The Board has also rejected Law Commission questionnaire saying that it was a fraud and said that the Board will boycott it The Board alleged that the Law Commission was not acting independently but was acting at the behest of the centre.
The Commission in its questionnaire asks whether triple talaq - which according to Islamic law based on the Koran permits a husband to pronounce talaq three times to instantly divorce his wife - should be abolished altogether, retained only in customs without legal sanctity, or retained with suitable amendments.
The Board also alleged that the Modi government had opened a new front against the Muslims. It mounted a strong attack on the Narendra Modi government accusing it of opening a "second front internally" by raking up the issue of Uniform Civil Code to "cover up" the failures of the administration in handling external challenges.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board fears that the issue of talaq and polygamy are being used as a means to change Muslim Personal Laws to pave way for the implementation of Uniform Civil Code and has indicated that it will launch a nationwide campaign against the government's attempt at abolishing Muslims Personal Law and implementation of UCC.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board told the court that the "validity of triple Talaq cannot be decided by the Supreme Court".
The Board has made it clear to the Court that The triple Talaq form of divorce is "permissible in Islam as the husband is in a better position to take a decision because they won't take hasty decision and it is used only when there is a valid ground," the board said. Scriptures, it said, don't fall within the expression of "laws that can be challenged."
Stating that issues of marriage, divorce and maintenance differ from religion to religion, the board said, "The validity of the rights in one religion can't be questioned by court. As per Quran divorce is essentially undesirable but permissible when needed."
The policy of Islam, the affidavit says, is that "it is better to dissolve the marriage when there is bitterness among couples."
The Board is going to organized a two day conference on Muslim Personal Law on 18-20 Novermber in Kolkata. MP and prominent Trinamool Congress leader Sultan Ahmad is the Chairman of the Reception Committee of the conference.
In the latest developments, AIMPLB member Zafaryab Jeelani suggested that a referendum should be held on the issue before passing any law.
"90 per cent Muslim women support the Sharia law. The centre can hold a vote on the issue of triple talaq," Mr Jilani, the additional advocate general of Uttar Pradesh, said.
"The move of banning triple talaq is a conspiracy to impose Uniform Civil Code. The Muslims will not tolerate any interference in their personal law," said Mr Jeelani.
Some women's organizations have also been running campaigns against triple talaq.
Law Commission questionnaire
On 7 October, 2016, the Law Commission of India issues a questionnaire for the masses and sought their opinion on various issues concerning Hindu, Muslim and Christian community. The questionnaire also consists of questions on whether Uniform Civil Code be implemented and on whether triple talaq be banned and whether Muslim Personal Law be replaced by UCC. This has alerted the Muslim Community as they see it as a covert attempt at changing or abolishing Muslim Personal Law. The Law Commission says about its objective behind the questionnaire:
"The objective behind this endeavor is to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise the various cultural practices. The Commission invites suggestion on all possible templates of a common civil code."
The Commission has sought the opinion of the public within 45 days.
The AIMPLB has said that the Commission is acting at the behest of the government and this practice is a step towards the implementation of the UCC and abolition of the MPL. Some of the questions in the questionnaire are:
1. Are you aware that Article 44 of the Constitution of India provides that the "state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a Uniform Civil Code throughout the territory of India?
In your view does this matter require any further initiative?
2. Do you agree that the existing personal laws and customary practices need codification and would benefit the people?
3. Should following practices be banned and regulated?
a.Polygamy (Banned/ regulated)
b.Polyandry (Banned/ regulated)
c. Similar customery practices such maître-karaar(friendship deed) et al. (Banned/ regulated)
4. Should the practice of triple talaq be
a. abolished in toto
b.Retained the custom
c. Retained with suitable amendments
Khalid Saifullah Rahmani
Secretary All India Muslim Personal Law Board
Government of India's response to Supreme Court in connection with the triple talaq and polygamy case is a violation of the religious rights of Muslims and a conspiracy to deprive them of their rights. The Constitution of India has guaranteed right to practice and profess their respective religious beliefs and Muslim Personal Laws are purely religious laws.
Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, the powerful body of Muslim clerics, has said that Muslim personal law flows from the Holy Quran and cannot be subjected to any scrutiny by the Supreme Court based on principles of the Constitution.
Maulana Arshad Madani
We reject Law Commission questionnaire. Our religious laws are based on Quran and hadith which cannot be changed till the Day of Judgment. By fomenting the issue of Uniform Civil Code, Modiji is trying to create an atmosphere of communal hatred in the name of democracy.
Noor Jahan Shakeel
President All Bengal Muslim Women's Organisation
All Bengal Muslim Women's Organisation President Noor Jahan Shakil has started a signature campaign in favour of Muslim Personal Law and in defence of triple talaq to thwart the campaigns of some liberal Muslim women organizations like BMMA which has appealed to the government to abolish triple talaq and launched a signature campaign claiming to gather 50,000 signatures.
Dr Sabah Ismail Nadvi
The issue of triple talaq has once again been raised by a section of the community and has been lapped up by the media creating the impression that it is the most critical issue of the country. Some organizations claiming to be the well wishers of the community have raked up the issue and want the abolition of the triple talaq. The issue is in the Supreme Court and the honourable court has asked for the government's opinion on the issue.
Maulana Yaqub Bulandshahri
All India Deeni Madaris Board
The attempts at changing the Muslim Personal Laws are against the Constitutional Rights guaranteed to the minorities. The efforts to abolish triple talaq is an interference in the affairs of the Muslim Personal Law Board which no Muslim will approve. The judiciary should not interfere with the constitutional rights of Muslims.
Petitioners challenging triple talaq and polygamy
Shayra Banu, Uttarakhand
In April, a 35 year old woman of Allahabad filed a writ petition in Supreme Court appealing to the court to abolish triple talaq as her husband divorced her through triple talaq—instant mode of talaq.She alleged that her husband demanded dowry and tortured her physically and mentally. She alleged that her husband forced her to have multiple abortions which caused her serious health problems. As a result, she lives on medication. She has two children aged 14 and 12.
Ishrat Jahan, Howrah, West Bengal
In August this year, a divorced woman from Howrah in West Bengal, Ishrat Jahan had filed a writ petition challenging the constitutionality of the triple talaq and the arbitrary authority of a Muslim husband to profess instant talaq. She was divorced via triple talaq over phone.
In her petition, she sought a declaration from the court that Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 was unconstitutional, as it violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (equality), 15 (non-discrimination), 21 (life) and 25 (religion) of the Constitution.
Ishrat Jahan said that in April last year, her husband of 15 years, Murtaza, called from Dubai, said talaq talaq talaq and disconnected the call.
In her petition, Ms. Jahan, represented by advocate V.K. Biju, contended that personal laws that validate triple talaq as a form of divorce and recognise the practices of ''nikah halala'' and polygamy were void and unconstitutional as "they are not only repugnant to the basic dignity of a woman as an individual but also violative of the fundamental rights."
Afreen Rahman, Jaipur
28 year old Afreen Rahman is an MBA graduate and a top professional in a private firm. She was married to Ashar Warsi, a lawyer of Indore in 2014. The marriage was arranged through a matrimonial website. Ashar divorced her through triple talaq questioning her character. Afreen said that the in-laws demanded dowry and her brothers took loans to give them a cheque of Rs ten lakh. She also accused her husband of beating her for months for dowry. She says that her husband sent her divorce paper via speed post without talking to her or consulting her before taking the final call.
What you need to know
What is Uniform Civil Code?
It is prescribed under Directive Principles of State Policy in Article 44 which states "The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India." It is aimed at setting up one single law for all Indian citizens across religions in matters like marriage, inheritance, property, family, adoption etc.
What is Muslim Personal Law
The life of Muslims is governed by Shariat Laws based on the Quran and Hadith and Islamic jurisprudence. These laws are called Muslim Personal Law. in all questions (save questions relating to agricultural land) regarding intestate succession, special property of females, including personal property inherited or obtained under contract or gift or any other provision of Personal Law, marriage, dissolution of marriage, including talaq, ila, zihar, lian, khula and mubaraat, maintenance, dower, guardianship, gifts, trusts and trust properties, and wakfs (other than charities and charitable institutions and charitable and religious endowments) the rule of decision in cases where the parties are Muslims shall be the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat). Muslim Personal Law which came into force in 1937 through Shariah Application Act.
Why Muslims oppose it
One community which has for long vehemently opposed the idea of UCC are the Muslims. The reason for this is that there is already a Muslim Personal Law in place which is based on Shariat law. They claim that in the pretext of one single law a 'Hindu Civil Code' will be enforced on them, taking away the rights they currently enjoy under separate religious laws.