A conspiracy to interfere in Muslim Personal Law

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Criminalizing instant triple Talaq in the name of providing protection to Muslim women is a conspiracy to interfere in the Muslim Personal Law that was enacted during the British regime in 1937. This personal law has the consensus of the Muslim community since its enforcement. The Sunni Muslims, the largest section of the Muslim community has been following this till today. The Muslim women may have some grievances, but they never protested against the law before or after Independence. However, if some women have come forward during the three years of the NDA rule, it should be linked to the BJP’s campaign from the very beginning for common civil code. This is one of the three campaign issues of the BJP which appeared in every poll manifesto of the party. The other two are dropping the Article 370 that gives special status to the Jammu and Kashmir and paving the way for the Ram temple at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid. The party which raised its tally in Parliament from 2 in 1984 to 76 in 1989 by exploiting the Mandir-Masjid issue never gave up these three issues. In 1996, when Attal Behari Vajpayee being the leader of the party with highest number of seats was called to form the government he could not collect the required number for the majority and he had to resign. He could get the support from the secular opposition parties only when the three controversial issues were dropped from the agenda of the party and this paved the way for the first BJP government led by Vajpayee. Then again these issues were back to the agenda of the party. This backdrop shows the sticking of the party to the common civil code.

There are Muslim and women’s wings of the BJP which created an atmosphere where women approached the court and consequently, the Supreme Court in August in its 2-1 verdict said that instant triple Talaq was illegal because it violated the rights of women. The court also said that its ruling conformed to the Holy Book of Islam–Quran. This is the basis on which the cabinet of the Modi government okayed a draft Bill making triple Talaq a criminal offence. This raises many questions. Why was a civil wrong converted into a criminal act? While interfering with the Personal Law, why were the Muslim religious experts not consulted? When giving opinion on Muslim Personal Law, the Supreme Court made religious references, so did the ministry refer any religious source while framing the draft law? How within three years of the Modi rule, the Muslim women became so agitated as to approach the Supreme Court? Why is the government worried about the rights of Muslim women ignoring their Hindu counterparts particularly the divorcees whose rights are being trampled for years?

Muslim Personal Law Board meeting on December 17, expressed grave concern over the Bill to be introduced in the current winter session. The board described it as a conspiracy to snatch the rights of Muslim men to give divorce to their wives. The board also said the Bill is against the provisions of the constitution and interference into Shariah.

Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said the government is using the fragile majority of the Supreme Court verdict to frame the law while the judgment itself did not hint at criminalization of triple Talaq. The secular parties in Parliament should question the biased attitude of the government towards the Muslim Personal Law.

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