New Delhi, April 29
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today used the occasion of the birth anniversary of a social reformer to urge Muslims to “not politicise the issue of triple talaq” and to “protect women from the effects” of the practice of oral divorce. “Reformers from the Muslim community itself will come forward to fight what (our) Muslim daughters have to go through (in the name of triple talaq), they will find a way out,” said the PM in New Delhi today at an event to mark the birth anniversary of Basava, a 12th century philosopher and social reformer.
Modi also urged the Muslim community to have an open mind about the triple talaq issue.
“I also request the Muslim community, don’t look at this issue through a political lens, don’t let it go that route,” Modi said.
The PM has raised the issue of triple talaq several times recently, even as the Supreme Court is hearing a case on potentially banning the practice that some Muslim men follow of saying ‘talaq’ three times for an instant divorce.
Earlier this month, at the BJP’s national executive meeting, the PM said society should be woken up and made to take action against social evils. It should make efforts to provide justice to the victims of pernicious practices, he said.
“He (Modi) talked about social justice. He said our Muslim sisters should also get justice. Injustice should not be done to them. Nobody should be exploited. We do not want that there to be a conflict within the Muslim community over this issue,” said a BJP member after the party’s executive meeting.
The Supreme Court is hearing a case related to a batch of petitions filed with it – including by the Centre – regarding whether divorce by saying ‘talaq’ three times is legal or whether it impinges on equal rights, or in this case, on women’s rights. It’s also hearing arguments on whether the freedom to practice religion – via the Muslim Personal Law for Islam – takes precedence over basic freedoms, among other things.
The Centre has argued that triple talaq is against women’s rights. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s (AIMPLB) most recent statement on this divorce practice is that it isn’t allowed “without valid reasons”.
“Those who give triple talaq without reasons prescribed by the Sharia (religious law) will face social boycott,” said the AIMLPB earlier this month.
The AIMPLB is against any “outside interference” on an issue that was described as part of the Sharia, or religious law, and thus a fundamental right. It, however, decided to put in place a mechanism to ensure that the option of triple talaq is exercised in the rarest of the rare case. It said it could exercise restraint on oral divorce by socially boycotting and fining those who resort to the practice wantonly.
The Supreme Court decided that a five-judge constitution bench will rule on the constitutional validity of the practice of triple talaq. It has set May 11-19 as the timeline to conclude hearings on its legality.
The court said it would hold daily sittings between May 11 and May 19 to decide on whether to make the practice of oral talaq illegal. The hearings will begin May 11.
New Delhi, April 29