AIMPLB affidavit reignites debate on women's rights

Affidavit raises concerns about women’s rights, and the clash between faith & legal redressal.

September 04, 2016 01:24 am | Updated September 22, 2016 04:59 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The affidavit filed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in the Supreme Court on Thursday, during the hearing on a petition filed against triple talaq, has reignited the debate on the status of women, their rights, and the clash between personal faith and legal redressal.

In the 68-page affidavit, the Board not only reminded the apex court that such matters did not fall under judicial purview, but its members also clarified that it was the responsibility of Parliament to make laws as the Right to Religion is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Last year, the apex court had directed the registration of a suo motu PIL titled ‘Muslim women’s quest for equality’, leading to a slew of petitions that were filed by Muslim women against their personal law.

The opposition to the petition had come, among others, from the AIMPLB. Lawyers say the Board’s submission, especially on matters related to polygamy and talaq, is indicative of its resistance to a progressive view on gender equality and has been dubbed retrograde by many.

Says advocate Saif Mahmood, “In my view, there is nothing in the Constitution that protects Muslim personal law. Personal law is not protected under Article 25, which protects the right to religion and which is subject to Articles 14 (equality), 19 (right to life) and 21 (personal liberty). In all such cases, equality, life and liberty will be privileged.”

Farha Faiz, an advocate who requested to be made a respondent in the case in March this year, feels it is essential to keep a distinction between personal law and religion and asserts boards such as AIMPLB should be scrapped as they link religion with everything concerning a Muslim person’s life.

Ms. Faiz added, “I also feel the Board needs to remember that whereas there was only one Shah Bano fighting an entrenched patriarchy back in 1986, many women are coming forward now to claim their rights. She is no longer alone.”

The linking of talaq and polygamy to faith is erroneous and that is what the Board is doing by deliberately confusing everybody, Ms. Faiz said

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