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Ahead of polls, Centre keeps tight-lipped on triple talaq

The Centre is guarded on the stand it will take before the Supreme Court on triple talaq, the practice of giving instantaneous unilateral divorce among Muslims, sources said.

india Updated: Sep 16, 2016 01:30 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Muslims pray during Eid al-Adha at Jama Masjid in New Delhi, on September 13, 2016.
Muslims pray during Eid al-Adha at Jama Masjid in New Delhi, on September 13, 2016.(Sushil Kumar/HT Photo )

The Centre is guarded on the stand it will take before the Supreme Court on triple talaq, the practice of giving instantaneous unilateral divorce among Muslims, sources said.

The government is apprehensive that a hard line on the issue can lead to controversies in the run-up to next year’s election in states such as Uttar Pradesh, where 19.2 % of the 20 crore population are Muslims.

An inter-ministerial panel deliberating on the issue has hinted the government should not recommend banning the controversial custom and leave it to the apex court to take a final call on amending Muslim personal laws. The Supreme Court on September 5 gave four weeks’ time to the Centre to file its reply on a bunch of petitions on triple talaq and the plight of Muslim women.

Read | Triple talaq must pass the constitutional test in Supreme Court

The panel, headed by home minister Rajnath Singh, will have a couple of more meetings to finalise the government’s stand, but sources said so far it is in favour of taking a cautious line.

The BJP-led NDA government’s stand on the issue is important as it has batted for uniform civil code — common personal law — for all citizens. In matters of marriage and divorce, inheritance and property, Muslims in India are governed by Muslim personal law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, that allows customs such as triple talaq where a man can divorce his wife, when she is not menstruating, by uttering talaq thrice in one sitting.

India is one of the few countries, which still recognises oral and triple talaq, a custom that has been extensively misused by men.

Read | Triple talaq: The ‘inhuman practice that violates rights and dignity of women’

The government had earlier written to the Law Commission of India to examine the matter.

Officials said the government does not want to rake up a fresh controversy by recommending that Muslim Personal Law be amended.

On September 2, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board(AIMPLB) in a counter-affidavit filed in SC said that personal laws of a community cannot be “re-written” in the name of social reforms and opposed pleas on various issues, including alleged gender discrimination faced by Muslim women in divorce cases.

Read more | Muslim board’s stance on talaq does not reflect spirit of Islam