Muslim Women’s Board to challenge Muslim Personal Law Board’s Affidavit in Supreme Court

Infuriated by the contents of the affidavit in support of triple talaq filed by the All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPLB) in the Supreme Court a few days ago, the breakaway All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) has decided to intervene in the petitions before the apex court asking for the declaration of triple talaq, halala as unconstitutional.

“The regressive and shameful attitude of the AIMPLB has compelled us to approach the court”, Shaista Amber, chairperson of the Muslim women’s board told Sabrang India. “We abide by the Shariah and will continue to do so till qayamat (day of final judgment). The AIMPLB claims to live by Allah’s law. But in reality it is acting contrary to the procedure for divorce enjoined by the Quran and following the teachings of the Rightly Guided Caliphs who all said and done were human beings”.

Amber is in particular outraged by the contention of the AIMPLB that but for the option of triple talaq (instant divorce), Muslim men might resort to murder in order to get rid of their wives. “What kind of Muslims are these? Islam is about justice, kindness, mercy and compassion, while these people are speaking the language of violence?”

Asked how soon her organisation proposed to approach the Supreme Court, Amber said the AIMWPLB is in the process of building a water-tight case before filing their petition. “Please remember that the AIMPLB is loaded with money, has access to a battery of lawyers. There are builders and others who are generous with their money when it comes to filling the coffers of the maulanas. On the other hand, we are starved of funds, entirely dependent on small donations from poor women. What is more, because of the clout of the maulanas, Muslim lawyers are either in the thrall of the maulanas or scared to stand up against them in court. Such is the shameful state of affairs”, she said.

What if they are unable to find a Muslim lawyer? “We are prepared to engage lawyers from other communities. But given our financial constraint we also have to think of their fees”, she said.
Other Muslim women’s groups have also slammed the affidavit filed by the AIMPLB. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) had demanded an apology from the Board for stating that “Male sex is stronger and female weaker.”

"Their stand that men have greater reasoning power compared to women smacks of a medieval mindset and prejudice against women. To presume that this would take care of murder of women and illicit relationships is a fallacy and the facts do not bear this out. Their justification of polygamy and triple talaq contravenes the Constitution," said BMMA’s co-convener  Zakia Soman.

"We vehemently denounce the views of AIMPLB and expect that they withdraw their affidavit, apologise to all women and ensure that their statements in the future are not derogatory to women”, said a joint statement issued by Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-convenor of BMMA and Sahba Farooqui and Maimoona Mollah from All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA).

Says advocate Saif Mahmood, “In my view, there is nothing in the Constitution that protects Muslim personal law. Personal law is not protected under Article 25, which protects the right to religion and which is subject to Articles 14 (equality), 19 (right to life) and 21 (personal liberty). In all such cases, equality, life and liberty will be privileged.”



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