The Narendra Modi government does not intend to review its “considered” observation on triple talaq, as reflected in an affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court last week.
“This is a well thought out and considered view of the government in pursuit of gender equality and dignity of women,” union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told HT in an interview.
Amid growing unease within a section of Muslim religious bodies over government’s affidavit opposing triple talaq, Prasad said several Islamic countries have already regulated their matrimonial laws and the practice of triple talaq violates fundamental rights of women as enshrined in the Constitution.
“There are many Islamic countries in the world, who have regulated triple talaq. They have made provision for arbitration and conciliation. At some places, only court decides in such matter. You simply cannot say talaq-talaq-talaq. We have taken a position that if Islamic countries have regulated their matrimonial laws, which has not been found violative of the Sharia, how can the same argument be raised in a secular country like India.
“Countries such as Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, Iran and even Pakistan have regulated their laws much earlier. Agar wahan ho sakta hai to bharat mein kyon nahi (“If it can happen there, why can’t it happen in India,)” Prasad said.
His remarks came on a day the All India Muslim Personal Law Board announced that it would boycott a 16-point questionnaire by the law commission, seeking public opinion on uniform civil code.
One of the questions has sought response from the public if triple talaq should be abolished, retained or retained with suitable amendments. Two days ago, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, a prominent Muslim body, stoutly opposed the government affidavit, saying it was infringement on rights of Muslims.
Prasad, however, said three basic principles – gender justice, non-discrimination and dignity of women – were at the core of the government’s affidavit.
“Should, in a secular country like India, a big group of women be allowed to get into a vulnerable situation only because they are of a particular community?” he asked.
The minister said Article 14 of the Constitution talks about right to equality and Article 15 says there shall be no discrimination on the ground of sex. Article 21 provides for right to live with dignity and Article 15(3) enables the state to make special provision for women and children. “And triple talaq based upon these principles can never be justified,” he pointed out.