Archives  >  2019  >  July  >  26th

Talaq, Talaq, Talaq

1. What’s the story?

On Thursday, Lok Sabha passed the historic Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019. Also known as the Triple Talaq Bill, it essentially criminalizes the practice of instant triple talaq. (Quick recap: The triple talaq is a practice that allows a Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by stating the word “talaq” thrice in oral, written, or electronic format.) Even though the Bill was passed, most Opposition parties were against it — accusing the Government of targeting only one community in its legislative zeal.
Tell me more.
The controversy around triple talaq can be traced back to 1984, when a Muslim woman named Shah Bano appealed to the Supreme Court for maintenance from her former husband who had divorced her arbitrarily. She won the case in a landmark judgment. However, political pressure at that time made the Congress Government legislate a new version of the Act, nullifying the court’s earlier verdict. In 2017, the controversy picked up steam again as another woman, Shayara Bano, approached the highest court with a similar grievance.  The Supreme Court had reserved its verdict in 2017, asking the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) if it was possible to give women the right to decline instant triple talaq. AIMPLB had declared that it had asked its Qazis to give Muslim women the option of opting out of triple talaq when giving consent for the nikaah.

Various politicians opposed this Bill in the Parliament on Thursday, including Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi. Tharoor claimed that though Congress was against the practice of triple talaq, this Bill blurred the lines between civil and criminal law. He also declared that this was a legislation targeting only one community – Muslims – even though Hindus, Christians et al also abandon their wives. Owaisi reserved his snark for BJP, wondering how BJP empathizes with Muslim women while simultaneously opposing the rights of Hindu women to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. He also called this Bill unconstitutional.

So, what now?
The current Bill in question has passed the Lok Sabha with a majority of 303 votes. According to its provisions, Muslim men who grant their wives triple talaq and abandon them may now face up to three years in jail. It is, however, important to note that a bill becomes an Act of Parliament only after it has been passed by both the Houses of Parliament and assented to by the President.

2. Where else should I be looking at?

Pakistan, that’s where. In a landmark declaration, the Pakistani Prime Minister admitted to the presence of Pakistan-backed militants in Kashmir. Earlier this week, Imran Khan made the following statement: “Until we came into power, the governments did not have the political will, because when you talk about militant groups, we still have about 30,000-40,000 armed people who have been trained and fought in some part of Afghanistan or Kashmir.” India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was swift to issue a statement, declaring it a “glaring admission by the Pakistani leadership.” The MEA also stated that it was time for Islamabad to take “credible and irreversible action” against terror groups.

3. What more?

On Wednesday, it was reported that current Home Minister, Amit Shah, will lead a panel to examine ways to prevent workplace sexual harassment in the country. The panel also includes Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman and Women and Child Development Minister, Smriti Irani. Some people, though, were not happy about this development, since Shah himself had once been accused “of employing state machinery to keep a young woman in Gujarat under illegal surveillance…”

4. Anything else?

Nalini, one of the main accused in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, has been granted regular parole of one month for the first time in 28 years. Madras High Court granted her the parole so that she could make arrangements for the wedding of her daughter, Harithra. Here is how she plans to spend it.
“Brief emergency paroles granted to her in the past have lasted only a few hours … Instead of coming to her Royapettah home in Chennai city, Nalini will be living in Vellore during the parole period. Her lawyers said they have rented a house for her to spend a month along with her mother Padmavathi. Harithra, who was born in the prison, is expected to join her mother and grandmother.”

5. Is that all?

Kolkata’s ancient, crumbling, predominantly male-centric “messbaris” are being lovingly documented by an intrepid group of researchers in the city.
“Observing the city as a receptacle of personal histories and a space of co-existence and refuge, enterprises such as SHPK and the ‘Messbari Project’ have rekindled conversations on heritage and what it entails. The initiatives aim to propagate the idea that sustainable dialogues on both intangible and tangible legacies can be accomplished through the participation of local communities as primary stakeholders”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at how the UK is quite jittery about its newly minted Prime Minister.
“…until now, Johnson has never been a very effective politician. In his most important executive role, as the mayor of London, Johnson did fine. Neither more nor less. He had no major policy agenda and, beyond a few vanity projects, he left the city basically untouched. Johnson is much more interested in having power than in doing anything with it. As Britain’s Foreign Secretary, between 2016 and 2018, he was in a position to work on the momentous job of leaving the E.U., a cause that he had championed for much of his working life. But he simply shambled about, making mistakes.”

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