AIPWA Statement Welcoming Supreme Court Verdict Striking Down Instant Triple Talaq
We welcome the verdict of the Supreme Court - Shayara Bano v. Union of India and Ors” WP (C) No. 118/2016 - holding instant Triple Talaq in one sitting to be unconstitutional and arbitrary, as well as un-Islamic and striking it down. This verdict is a victory for the Muslim women and Muslim women’s groups that have led the sustained struggle for the ban on the practice. The verdict affirms the Constitutional principles of the equality, rights, and dignity of women.
The struggles of Muslim women to abolish instant Triple Talaq are all the more courageous and laudable because they have been conducted in a hostile climate – where the Central Government has tried to politically appropriate their struggle for its own communal agenda, and where the rights and dignity of minorities are under an unprecedented attack in India.
The attempts by some quarters to credit the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party for the verdict and paint this verdict as a victory of a communal agenda and a defeat of the Muslim community are condemnable and must be firmly rebuffed. The Muslim women’s groups that have fought and won this battle with the support of other women’s groups deserve the credit for this victory. Any attempt to use this verdict as a pretext to humiliate the minority community is condemnable – the Constitution protects the rights of women as well as the rights of minorities and other vulnerable communities, and these should not be pitted against each other.
We are strongly opposed to any attempt by the Government of India to introduce a Uniform Civil Code. We have long held that personal laws reform should be done from the perspective of gender justice rather than uniformity. There are a wide range of patriarchal aspects in many existing personal laws pertaining to all communities, which require reform. In this regard, we reiterate that the chapter on personal law reform in the report of the latest High Level Committee on Status of Women (http://wcd.nic.in/documents/h
lc-status-women) should be used to initiate a discussion with women’s movement groups to achieve a roadmap for gender-just changes.
We welcome the fact that the majority verdict of the Supreme Court striking down the instant triple talaq law as unconstitutional prevailed rather than the minority verdict which stayed the practice of instant Triple Talaq for a period of six months and directed the Government to legislate on it. We believe that the onus of safeguarding Constitutional values and rights lies with the Courts. This task should not be outsourced to the legislature, since Constitutional rights are not a matter that should be decided by levels of popularity or political support. Likewise, it is high time the Supreme Court overturned its own judgement overturning the Delhi HC verdict on Section 377 decriminalizing homosexuality – a judgement in which the Supreme Court refused to strike down an unconstitutional law and instead tasked the legislature with taking a decision on this matter. It is also high time that the Supreme Court intervened to remove the unconstitutional marital exception in the rape law.
Rati Rao, President, AIPWA
Tahira Hasan, Vice President, AIPWA
Meena Tiwari, General Secretary, AIPWA
Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, AIPWA