Activists pick holes in triple talaq Bill

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan members feel that the Bill is silent on polygamy, age of marriage etc.  

The Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), which has been on the forefront of the battle against triple talaq, has called for a range of changes in the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, that will be tabled in the Lok Sabha next week.

The Bill, say BMMA members, lacks a holistic approach on gender justice, and leaves out problems such as polygamy, age of marriage andhalala(a practice where a woman is made to go through a consummatednikaahwith another man in order to go back to her former husband).

“After such a long fight, it is a very big development in terms of having a legislation. But we were hopeful that the Bill would be much more comprehensive,” said Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of BMMA. The Andolan hascalled for the Bill to be referred to a Parliamentary standing committee to include gender-just provisions.

On criminalisation

BMMA members said the purpose of the Bill is gender justice, and criminalisation in itself cannot serve this objective. Recognising the importance of deterrence in law, they demanded that the deterrence should be guided by earlier progressive laws on bigamy, dowry and prevention of domestic violence. “Marriage is a civil matter. As per Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code, bigamy is a non-cognisable and bailable offence. Violation of law through triple talaq should invite penalty and punishment accordingly and proportionately,” they said.

Harsh approach

They said the Bill takes a harsher approach by making triple talaq a non-bailable and cognisable offence, attracting a penalty and imprisonment up to three years.

According to Ms. Niaz, the Bill makes triple talaq illegal, but fails to suggest alternate methods that need to be followed. “The Bill needs to lay down the procedure of divorce as per thetalaq-e-Ahsanmethod, involving reconciliation and mediation between husband and wife lasting for a minimum 90 days. In case of divorce after this procedure, the wife should receive financial support for herself and her children,” Ms. Niaz said. She said the BMMA has developed a method of divorce based on the Quranic injunctions in its draft, which it has sent to government authorities, including 62 parliamentarians.

Opposition from some

Meanwhile, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has rejected the legislation on the whole, stating that it should be withheld and withdrawn.

They have also called for consultations with their members before preparing the Bill. After a meeting of the AIMPLB on December 24 in Lucknow, members announced that the consequences of the Bill would be against the welfare of Muslim women.

“It shall harm the interest of Muslim women and the family, it is against the principals of sharia and an interference in Muslim Personal Law,” said a statement from the Board.

The Bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet earlier this month.