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Need comprehensive reforms in divorce laws: Muslim body

After the Narendra Modi-led government’s decision to make triple talaq illegal, the Muslim Satyashodhak Mandal (MSM) has demanded that the proposed legislation be extended to cover all forms of divorce granted by the Muslim community under its personal laws.

Activists of the Mandal founded by social reformer Hamid Dalwai, met Modi in New Delhi on Monday and sought that all cases of divorce be settled through courts to prevent discrimination and ensure justice and that an ‘Indian Marriage Act’ be prepared for all communities.

“We have requested that not just instant triple talaq i.e talaq-e-biddat, but all forms of talaq be banned by the central government. This will ensure that divorce cases are decided in courts and not outside it. Till the court decides on this divorce, the couple should not be allowed to remarry. Laws prohibiting bigamy should also be extended to Muslims,” MSM president Prof Shamshuddin Tamboli told DNA.

He stressed that the issue should be looked at comprehensively and not a piecemeal basis. The MSM has also demanded a ban on the “outdated and inhuman” provision of Halala in Muslim personal law, which is demeaning for women. In halala, a divorced woman has to marry another man who will divorce her after which she can marry her original husband.

On Monday, Tamboli and activists of the mandal, namely former president Sayyadbhai, Jameer Shaikh, Dilawar Shaikh, Sameer Shaikh and Niyaz Attar met Modi with BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe. They will also meet leaders from other parties to build a consensus on the issue.

The memorandum submitted to Modi noted that “considering the complexity of Muslim womens’ problems” the proposed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) bill, may not be able to address these issues and ensure justice for Muslim women. It demanded that other forms of talaq like talaq-e-Hasan, talaq-e-Ahasan, talaq-e-Khula also be banned since they were one-sided and had male dominated provisions.

Apart from the custody of minor children, the bill should also incorporate provisions for the maintenance of children and victims.

“Banning instant triple talaq i.e talaq-e-Biddat without banning polygamy may intensify the existing problems of Muslim women,” the MSM noted, seeking a draft Muslim       Marriage and Divorce Act in consultation with stakeholders.

“Though we support the Uniform Civil Code, considering the politics around it, an Indian Marriage Act should be approved. Now, around 95% of criminal and civil laws like the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, and Indian Penal Code, 1860, are common for all communities… the proposed marriage act will ensure uniformity in marriage, divorce, alimony, adoption and inheritance,” said Tamboli, adding this would ensure secularism, equality and gender justice.

On April 18, 1966, Hamid Dalwai, an author and founder of the Indian Secular Society, had organised a morcha of the Muslim women at the receiving end of the oral, one-sided divorce, at the state administrative headquarters and submitted a memorandum to then chief minister Vasantrao Naik. The Mandal was launched in March 1970 for social and religious reforms among Muslims but faced opposition from orthodox sections within the community.

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