Personal laws can’t be written in name of social reform: Muslim law board to SC
It is better to divorce a woman than kill her, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board told the Supreme Court on Friday, defending the practice of triple talaq that faces legal challenge for bias against women.
The AIMPLB, a non-governmental institution that oversees Muslim personal law, also said the Muslim law gave husbands the power to divorce as they were emotionally more stable.
“Shariah grants the right to divorce because men have greater power of decision making. They are more likely to control emotions and not to take a hasty decision,” the board said in an affidavit.
Triple talaq, under which a Muslim man can repeat the word talaq thrice to divorce his wife, violated women’s right to equality, several women have told the Supreme Court.
But the board said in case of a discord, divorce was a better option available to a Muslim man than resorting to “criminal ways of getting rid of her (wife) by murdering her”.
The board said rights bestowed by religion can’t be questioned in a court of law. The Quran didn’t fall within the expression of “laws” that could be challenged. The Supreme Court couldn’t interfere in religious freedom and “rewrite personal laws in the name of social reform”, it said.
All jurists unanimously agreed that husband had the right to divorce. “No jurist in Islamic history ever held a view to the contrary…. Courts can’t supplant their own interpretations,” it said.
“As per Quran, divorce is essentially undesirable but permissible when needed.”
The board was responding to the court’s decision to examine gender bias in Muslim law to ensure that a woman’s right to equality was not violated.
The affidavit, silent on constitutional rights of Muslim women, comes at a time when more and more women were approaching courts against age-old discriminatory practices.
India has separate sets of personal laws for each religion governing marriage, divorce, succession, adoption and maintenance.
While Hindu law overhaul began in the 1950s and continues, activists have long argued that Muslim personal law, which has remained mostly unchanged, is tilted against women. To end the confusion over personal laws, the court has been advocating a uniform civil code, a political hot potato.
AIMPLB said constitutional provision on Uniform Civil Code was only a directive principle of state policy which was not enforceable and it was a matter of legislative policy.