‘Triple talaq makes women vulnerable, it can’t be justified’
The Union law minister says the custom has been abolished in many Islamic countries, it’s India’s turn now
Why is the Modi government suddenly so vocal on triple talaq?
A large number of victims of triple talaq have gone to the Supreme Court, questioning the practice. The Supreme Court asked us (law ministry) to give our response. There are three focus areas of our response—gender justice, gender equality and gender dignity, the basic abiding principles of our Constitution. Therefore, purely on fundamental values, triple talaq cannot be justified. It puts women in a condition of great vulnerability. We acknowledge the right to faith as fundamental: freedom of religion. But every pernicious or discriminatory practice cannot be held integral to religion. Practices will have to satisfy constitutional standards. In more than 20 Islamic countries, triple talaq has either been regulated or abolished altogether. If abolition or regulation of triple talaq is not found to be violating the Shariat or contrary to personal law in the acknowledged Muslim-dominated countries, how can the same argument be made in a clearly secular country like India?
How deeply are you involved?
I am the law minister. The government considered it at the highest level. My job was to give feedback and coordinate. I have been consciously speaking. And the PM has spoken. We have properly framed it within the troika of gender justice, equality and dignity.
Does the PM’s Vijayadashami speech last October indicate that a common civil code is on the anvil?
The Law Commission of India is examining it. A very comprehensive consultation is to be held there. Let all the stakeholders come and have the widest consultations. As far as India is concerned, we have a common penal code, IPC; a common criminal procedural code, CrPC; we have a common Transfer of Property Act; a common Contract Act; a common Civil Procedure Code; prohibition of dowry and there are a lot of other acts that are in common. The larger issue is that a lot of laws are religion- and community-neutral. But there is no need to link up triple talaq with the uniform civil code.
Why do you think India has not been able to resolve this?
That you will need to ask those who have governed the country for 60 years. We’re doing our job.
Even you (the BJP) have kept it in your election manifesto since 1998.
We are a coalition government. Our majority is not the point. The larger issue is whether India, after 70 years, needs objective consideration on gender justice, which must be viewed from the prism of religion/community neutrality.
The Muslim Personal Law Board sees it as interference.
The law is equally applicable to all. Don’t forget that lakhs of Muslim women have come forward.
How will you convince the Hindus?
Whether it’s child marriage, widows, dowry or property, Hindu laws have always responded to all issues. It doesn’t mean the Muslim community has to remain in perpetual vulnerability.