Triple talaq: Need to fine-tune a good law
By Amulya Ganguli
Only the naive will believe that deep concern for the welfare of Muslim “sisters” and for the maintenance of the “dignity of women” and “gender equality” persuaded the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to introduce the bill in parliament to ban the practice of triple talaq.
For a party whose founder in its previous incarnation, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, thought that only a civil war can solve the Hindu-Muslim problem, as Tripura’s Governor, Tathagata Roy of the BJP, reminded us recently, and a BJP candidate in the Gujarat elections sought a reduction in the numbers of “topi and dadhiwalas” (sartorial allusion to Muslims), it strains credulity to believe that it has been guided solely by laudable motives to put an end to an admittedly reprehensible custom.
The belief will persist, therefore, that it is a desire to “garner votes” which is behind the decision, notwithstanding Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s disavowal of such an intention.
Few will deny, of course, that the practice itself is highly condemnable, not least because it is illegal even in Islamic countries. For a secular country, therefore, to allow it to prevail points to a flawed outlook whose roots lie in political calculations.
It cannot be gainsaid that the BJP is outlawing triple talaq for gaining political mileage both from sections of Muslim women and from those Hindus who will see the proposed law, first, as an example of “brother” Modi’s distress over the sufferings of Muslim women and, secondly, as a message to Muslims in general that the days are gone when they were given excessive leeway by less assertive governments.
The “secular” rulers of the past, on the other hand, also thought that they will gain votes by pandering to the predilections of the obscurantists among the minorities.
The worst example of this regressive attitude was the Shah Bano episode when the Rajiv Gandhi government negated a Supreme Court verdict in favour alimony for a divorced Muslim woman on the advice of Muslim fundamentalists.