Government to Oppose Triple Talaq in SC on Grounds of Women’s Rights

Earlier this year, petitioners highlighted the plight faced by Muslim women on account of arbitrary divorces. Credit: PTI

Earlier this year, petitioners highlighted the plight faced by Muslim women on account of arbitrary divorces. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The Centre will be opposing the practice of triple talaq (divorce) in the Supreme Court, on the grounds that women’s rights are “inalienable” and will assert that the issue should not be seen through the prism of a uniform civil code, according to a highly placed government functionary’s comments today.

The law ministry will file a consolidated reply on the issue in the apex court by the end of this month.

The issue is being deliberated upon at the inter-ministerial level which includes the home, finance and women and child development ministries in addition to the law ministry.

“We shouldn’t approach it from (the perspective of the) uniform civil code. We need to talk in terms of rights of women. Our reply is going to be only on rights. A woman’s rights are inalienable and according to the constitution she has to have the same rights as men.

“Every court decision has slowly been taking us to these uniform rights. The practice of triple talaq doesn’t exist even in Pakistan or Bangladesh. Only we have it,” the senior functionary said.

Home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley, defence minister Manohar Parrikar and women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi met last week to deliberate on the government’s possible stand on the issue of Muslim practices of polygamy, triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) and ‘nikah halala’ (a practice where divorced women, in case they want to go back to their husbands, have to consummate a second marriage).

According to this source,  all the senior ministers agreed to look at the contentious issue through the prism of gender rights.

Early this month the Supreme Court gave the Centre four weeks to submit its reply to a batch of petitions concerning the practice of triple talaq.

The first among these pleas was filed by Shayara Bano from Uttarakhand who claimed that the practices like triple talaq, polygamy and “nikah halala” as being unconstitutional.

Two women from Jaipur and Kolkata, who were both divorced by citing triple talaq also approached the court. Their petitions and a number of supportive pleas filed by Muslim women’s organisations have all been bundled together.

Opposing these petitions in court are the Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind (JUH) and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).

AIMPLB told the apex court earlier this month that personal laws can’t be re-written in the name of reforms and that the validity of Muslim personal law “cannot be tested” as it derives from the Quran.

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which is also one of the petitioners, spearheaded a signature campaign earlier this year to ban triple talaq, over 50,000 Muslim women and men supported the petition.