In a significant recent development, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has made it clear that it opposes the misuse of triple talaq. Under the present Muslim Personal Law it is possible for a man to divorce his wife by simply uttering the word talaq three consecutive times. This system is known as triple talaq.
The system has been called regressive by most of the people because it unfavourably treats the woman and gives the man a lot of arbitrary power. It has been mostly misused by men to divorce their wife and go for another marriage. In a way, this system promotes polygamy.
Muslim women have been oppressed in India under this system for almost a century now. Several governments have articulated their reservations about continuance of this system. However, the governments so far have avoided interfering into what they see as a particular religion’s personal law.
The present central government favours Uniform Civil Code, that is, a single set of civil laws controlling property rights, marriage, divorce, inheritance rights etc. for all the people of the country. At present, different religions in India have their different sets of civil laws. In most of the modern democracies this type of disparity is no longer present. The government wants to set this anomaly correct.
In this context, a new development took place when a public interest litigation (PIL) challenged the system of triple talaq in the Supreme Court of India. Hearing the matter, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Government of India and asked the latter to clarify its stand. The Government of India has already stated that it does not support this system. Now the Supreme Court of India will hearing the matter from May 11, 2017.
The position taken by All India Muslim Personal Law Board
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board is of the opinion that the Government of India should not be interfering into the Muslim Personal Law. It is opposing the public interest litigation in the Supreme Court. The Personal Law Board has taken the recent stand against triple talaq to essentially to prevent its misuse.
The board has also given a threat of social boycott those who misuse the system, saying that the boycott would involve restricting the offender entry into public functions and community programmes. It has asserted that a similar system has worked well in the state of Haryana.
The board has also proposed a nationwide helpline to support the affected Muslim women due to this system. The board has also called for taking a special steps to help the divorced Muslim women.
Only taking a step against misuse of a regressive system is too late and too little on the part of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. The Board should have been unambiguous about its opposition to this regressive system.
If the leaders of the community do not take initiative, then in any civilised and progressive society, it is the courts and the government which will have to take steps to set correct a regressive system.
This could have been prevented had the Personal Law Board and other progressive bodies of the community taken an initiative timely and sufficiently to eliminate the system.