Muslim community welcomes triple talaq bill

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Muslim community welcomes triple talaq bill

Nehal Jain | December 27, 2017 11:27 hrs

Members of the Muslim community of Guwahati have welcomed the recently passed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, which seeks to make instant triple talaq (Talaq-e-biddat), illegal and a punishable offence.

A majority of them feel that the bill must get passed in the parliament and a strict law must come into enforcement.

Speaking to G Plus, Baharun Saikia, an advocate of Gauhati High Court, informed that she has herself been a victim of male chauvinism. Married in 1999, Saikia received two Talaqnamas in 2009, stating that her husband wanted to divorce her because she didn’t go by the Sharia. Being a liberal and educated woman, she knew the law and her rights. So she filed a case against her husband in the Gauhati High Court. The case had remained pending in the High Court until the Supreme Court’s judgement was announced and all cases of Triple Talaq became null and void.

Speaking on the Muslim Women Bill she said, “I appreciate the move and think it is imperative that the bill gets passed in the parliamentary session. Once the bill is passed, the law will become fair for women as the men who practice triple talaq will not be able to declare talaq without proper reasoning.”

While some say that the bill interferes with the personal law of the Muslim community, the Muslim community of Guwahati seems to be largely in favour of the decision.

Muslim women of Guwahati have rejoiced at the passing of the bill. “Talaq-e-biddat was never in favour of the women community. If it gets banned, Muslim men will not be able to misuse the law for their own benefit and we’ll be provided with allowance in the form of maintenance which was not the case earlier,” said a woman on the condition of anonymity. 

Further, Irfanullah Nizami, a businessman of Guwahati, said, “Only those who do not know the Muslim laws properly give instant triple talaq. Saying ‘talaq’ three times at a go does not mean that the couple has been divorced. After declaring talaq for the first time, one must give a chance to the marriage. If things do not work out the first time, one can declare a second talaq and again try to improve the relationship. Now, after staying together a couple more months and still not seeing a future, one can declare the third and final talaq. Only after that can the couple part ways, according to the Muslim law.”

He further informed that triple talaq is not very prevalent in Guwahati, but it is practiced more in the villages and remote areas.

“The bill should come into effect at the earliest. I feel that the punishments proposed in the bill are justifiable. According to the community law also, a wife is accustomed to getting maintenance from her husband. And if the law is passed that the husband will be jailed and liable to fine, he shall fear before unjustly declaring triple talaq,” he pointed out.

Misuse remains an apprehension

The proposed bill has provisions for imprisonment and fines for anyone invoking it. It also deals with subsistence allowance to a Muslim woman and her children from the estranged man as well as custodial rights of minor children.

The parliament is likely to debate on ‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’ during the winter session.

Earlier, on August 22, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark verdict on Triple Talaq or Talaq-e-biddat, striking it down as unconstitutional by 3-2 majority.

However, some feel that the proposed Bill comes with certain loopholes and can be prone to misuse.

Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury, a senior advocate at the Gauhati High Court told G Plus, “Sometimes, women misuse the law to harass their husbands and in-laws. And that is my only problem with such women-centric laws. But if the law that comes into effect can avoid such lacunas and be all inclusive, I will welcome the law.”

He further added, “It is true that the personal law of the Muslim community was unable to remove the evils of society and thus the need for a constitutional law arose. So, it’ll be the duty of the Muslim society to make sure that the law is abided by.”

The Gauhati High Court as well as the Family Court has seen cases of misuse of the practice of Triple Talaq. While most such incidences go unreported, there are some women who gather the courage to approach the court and file a case against their spouses.

In a recent case registered at the Family Court, a woman reported that she’d gone to her father’s house for some time and when she returned, her husband had already married another woman claiming that he’d sent a letter addressed to her announcing talaq. In another case registered nine months ago, a woman had been sent an e-mail by the husband that carried an announcement for their talaq.

Speaking to G Plus about the loopholes in the proposed bill, Advocate Baharun Saikia said, “The only loophole I notice in the Bill is the women community’s demand for the child’s custody. A kid belongs to both parents and they must both have complete rights to fight for the custody of the child and for visitation rights. And if the child is a major, above 18 years of age, he/she must be allowed to decide who they want to stay with.”

Divorce cases doubled in the past four years in Kamrup (M)

Between January 1 and December 15, 2017, a total of 1,104 divorce cases have been registered at the Family Court, among which maximum cases are that of contested divorce. The numbers are expected to exceed 1,200 by the end of the year.

Advocate Nazrul Saikia, practicing at the Family Court, also revealed that these numbers have gone up drastically over the years. While in 2014, a total of 600 divorce cases and around 400 maintenance cases were registered at the Family Court, the numbers went up in 2015 to 777 and 500 respectively, and then in 2015, the total number of divorce cases crossed 1000, with 620 maintenance cases.

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