It’s been over a year since the Supreme Court struck down Triple Talaq or Talaq-e-Biddat. The most recent development, in this case, has been the ordinance which punishes the perpetrators with three years in jail, making it a penal offence. For obvious reasons, this ordinance is hugely contested among the thinkers and scholars who are questioning the basis and legitimacy of this law.
I agree with the suggestion to refer the ordinance to a committee of Islamic scholars and Muslim women’s groups who are actually affected by it. However, I feel that this in itself might be an attempt to manifest the existing patriarchal set up of Muslim personal law. Having said that, one cannot deny the ulterior communal/political factors that might be at play. But at the same time, you can’t deny that this can be a benefit in disguise for so many Muslim women out there who are most affected by triple talaq.
You can’t welcome the Supreme Court judgement without accepting the subsequent laws that ascertain the implementation of the verdict. This way we can’t fix the accountability. This fundamentally means that if you stand for the right of women to live their lives with dignity then how can you be against a law that punishes those who are taking away that right from them. Triple talaq is a crime against society and deserves a punishment that sets an example for all wrongdoers.
In light of the ‘necessity’ for the ordinance, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad while introducing the ordinance highlighted that since January 2017 430 cases of Triple Talaq were filed out of which 201 were filed post the SC judgement, which clearly indicates that the judgement alone can’t act as a deterrent. Additionally, by including the clause related to the right of maintenance of the woman along with the custody of the child, can be seen as a huge step to shift the power paradigm in favour of women.
Having said that, I still believe that suggestions and opinions of those representing the community are important and they must be taken into account so that it doesn’t become a weapon to spread communal disharmony in the country. However, these expert opinions should not be restricted just to male upper caste scholars who haven’t really/and won’t ever face direct consequences of Triple Talaq. This step, in fact, can also be seen in the same light as an affirmative action which does justice to women who have faced years of injustice.
I come from a conservative Muslim family and have seen women of my family suffer due to this practice that allows the husband to divorce woman at their whims and fancies. As an ardent activist of gender rights, for me, rights of women will always remain superior to any religion and feel that those who think that they can take women for a ride because their religion permits it, should most definitely be penalised as that indeed is a danger to society and hence a criminal offence.