‘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

India Today - - BIG STORY - RAVI SHANKAR PRASAD

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.

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