The government has again stirred a controversy by restarting the debate on the Uniform Civil Code. The Law Commission is being requested to examine the issue and make relevant changes & recommendations. The Shayara Bano case challenged the age-old practices such as Triple talaq, halala and polygamy.
A form of oral divorce practiced in India, where the husband declares his intent to divorce the wife by speaking ‘Talaq’ thee times. The Supreme Court expressed it as the worst form of marriage dissolution. Triple talaq as of today, is banned in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Halala is a disputed Islamic marriage strategy practiced, primarily by the certain sects of Sunni Muslims. It involves a female divorcee marrying someone else, consummating the marriage and then getting a divorce in order to make it allowable to remarry her previous husband.
Muslim men are allowed to practice polygyny, that is, they can have more than one wife at the same time, up to a total of four.
The Shayara Bano case (Shayara Bano vs Union of India) demanded the above practices be deemed unconstitutional. This was opposed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). A lot of women remain clueless on which side they must choose. Some practices that have proved to be derogatory to the rights of women still persist.
The BJP has been seemingly unable to instil any confidence in the Muslim women in India. Gender justice can’t be achieved through personal laws, especially in the case of Muslim women. The Muslim personal law in India seems to be biased against women and lead to their exploitation. But, because of the application of personal law in the matters of marriage, divorce, maintenance, inheritance and the like, Muslim women are precluded from enjoying the benefits accrued to the through sexual law, which their counterparts from other religious communities enjoy.
The Shah Bano case’s aftermath aptly describes the predicaments surrounding the rights of women under Muslim personal law and a severe lack and urgency of the Uniform Civil Code in India. The Shah Bano case is seen as a blow to the Muslim Personal Law and, under pressure from the religious orthodoxy, the government. was forced to pass the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986. The Act specifies that a reasonable amount has to be paid to the divorced wife within the iddat period by her former husband. Had the Supreme Court not been a saviour, where former husbands refused to pay maintenance, thousands of Muslim women would have been divorced and forced to live without any support. It is only courtesy of the Supreme Court that Muslim women are able to enjoy the fruits of Section 125 of the Criminal Penal Code in the same manner that Hindu and Christian women do.
For Muslim women, a Uniform Civil Code will definitely be a boon – it will bring more gender equality to personal laws and expand their rights when it comes to marriage, divorce, inheritance along with other personal matters.
Author: Akshay Palande
Akshay Palande is a passionate teacher helping hundreds of students in their UPSC preparation. With a degree in Mechanical Engineering and double masters in Public Administration and Economics, he has experience of teaching UPSC aspirants for 5 years. His subject of expertise are Geography, Polity, Economics and Environment and Ecology.