Triple Talaq Ordinance
The Supreme Court had invalidated the practice of triple talaq through a verdict last year. But the NDA Government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hell bent on making the practice a criminal offence, rather than the civil one. The Ordinance making it a non-bailable offence issued by the President of India is a step in the direction of giving the authorities and maybe vigilantes a new tool of harassment of Muslim men.
There is no gainsaying that triple talaq was and is an atrocious, arbitrary, sinister tool in the hands of a Muslim male to annul a marriage unilaterally. It victimizes the Muslim women. It should have been scrapped long ago by evolving a consensus within the community. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, an unwieldy body of clerics peppered with a few legal minds, should itself have initiated the reform in keeping with norms of gender justice. It sat over it for decades together arguing it to be integral to Islamic law and divine nature of the law, although the law has undergone several changes over the centuries and across lands.
It is rather queer that the ordinance seeks to imprison a husband even while the marriage remains valid. And to boot, makes him liable to maintain her without being able to earn for himself and the family. Secondly, it ignores the fact that marriage is a civil contract between the spouses and walk-out by one of them merely dissolves a relationship, rather than causing any physical harm to the other partner. Criminalising unilateral dissolution of a civil contract certainly does not warrant imprisonment. Even more grotesquely, the ordinance is discriminatory in that it is only for a Muslim husband that divorce becomes a criminal offence while for individuals from communities it remains a civil offence. Given the serious gaps and clumsiness of the exercise, it appears the Ordinance is all likely to be struck down in a court of law, if challenged.
The Ordinance has apparently been brought in view of the Government’s failure to get the equally ham-handedly drafted bill from the Rajya Sabha. The intent and purpose is manifest from the hurried pace the Ordinance has been moved through the President’s office. The BJP-led government is highly unlikely to benefit politically from the move as the entire exercise bears the stamp of frivolity and pettiness of vision.