Muslim organisations petitioning for a ban on the practice of triple talaq have appealed to the central government to stop politicising their fight for gender justice. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan – one of the petitioners in the case – on Monday condemned the government and conservative Muslim bodies for attempting to suppress the voices of Muslim women by diluting the debate on triple talaq with controversy over the uniform civilcode.
"These are two separate issues and should not be treated as similar. Triple talaq takes place without any Quranic sanction and causes tremendous...suffering to Muslim women, whereas UCC is a much larger question concerning all Indian citizens, irrespective of faith," the group said. It also condemned efforts by "patriarchal male bodies to misguide the Muslim community" by alluding to the UCC being an "attack on Shariat law and Muslim identity".
Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, said, "The Muslim Law Board is playing into the hands of the state by making this a debate on UCC instead of triple talaq. Muslim women keep losing out in the middle of these two extreme positions taken by the state and the Muslim Law Board."
The statement comes days after the All India Muslim Personal Law Board – a conservative body of Islamic male scholars – announced its decision to boycott the questionnaire released by the Law Commission to seek public opinion on the introduction of a uniform civil code. It had argued that the code was unconstitutional and had accused the government of creating discord between communities. Union minister Venkaiah Naidu also asked the Muslim law board to not politicise the subject, while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said personal laws should comply with the Indian Constitution and should not violate gender rights.
On October 7, the Centre had taken an official stand against triple talaq and polygamy, telling the Supreme Court that gender equality was non-negotiable. However, the Law Commission's released its questionnaire on the same day, indicating its plans to reform personal family laws into a highly-contested uniform civil code. In the past week, the Muslim board and other conservative Muslim institutions, as well as Opposition parties, have expressed their objection to the proposal, accusing the Centre of trying to impose a majoritarian ideology on all communities in the country.
Since February, the Supreme Court has been hearing multiple petitions demanding a ban on the practices of triple talaq (unilateral instantaneous divorce), polygamy and nikah halala on the grounds that they are discriminatory towards Muslim women. The Muslim personal law board has defended these practices in court, for which it has drawn widespread criticism.