A day after the Lok Sabha passed the contentious bill on instant triple talaq, the development was hailed by several Muslim women involved in judicial war against the practice, with a rider that the government should have also banned polygamy. The women, including those who waged the war against the archaic practice in the Supreme Court, said with the passing of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in the lower House, “a new beginning has been made” and it will prove to be a deterrent for the husbands from saying talaq-e- biddat to their wives. They said the new law should have also banned the practice of polygamy among Muslim men which, they said, was “more worse than triple talaq.” The women, advocate Farah Faiz, Rizwana, Razia, who were associated in the fight against triple talaq and polygamy in the apex court, expressed satisfaction that at least “a start” has been made by the present NDA dispensation. The same opportunity had come in 1985 when the Shah Bano case happened, but was lost by the then Central government, they claimed. “A new beginning has been made which would protect Muslim women from immoral practice of nikah halala,” said Faiz, whose view was shared by Rizwana and Razia with a slight variance. ‘Nikah halala’ is a practice intended to curb incidence of divorce. Under this, a man cannot remarry his former wife without her having to go through the process of marrying someone else, consummating it, getting divorced, observing the separation period called ‘Iddat’ and then coming back to him. Rizwana and Razia were of the view that the government should have dealt with the issue of polygamy by banning it in the same bill. “I welcome the move but now men will take undue advantage of the law and indulge in polygamy openly as it is still in practice. With polygamy still in practice, abolition of triple talaq cannot alone not help us,” said 33-year-old Rizwana, a victim of polygamy.
Razia (24), whose husband divorced her over phone citing birth of daughters as the reason behind it, hailed the law brought by government and hoped that women like her would get justice. Married at the age of 16, Razia said, “I was given triple talaq by my husband on phone as he did not want to bring up our two daughters. Triple talaq is a crime and has spoilt many lives. I pray that all women like me get justice with this new law. However, I wish that the practice of polygamy is also banned.” Advocate Chandra Rajan who had represented All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) also hailed bringing of the legislation and said it would go a long way in history. “If this new law is implemented in true spirit then it will go a long way and prove to be a deterrent for the husbands from saying ‘talaq-e-biddat’ to their wives,” she said. Rajan said the AIMWPLB has, from the very beginning, demanded that there should be a law which should hold the practice of instant triple talaq null and void and impose punishment on husbands practicing it. “We are disappointed only on one count that Sharia was not defined by the government in the law. As long as Sharia is not defined, confusion and misuse of such practices will prevail,” she said, adding to this extent, it can be said that the government brought this law in a haste. “The best thing the law proposes is that custody of minor child will be given to the mother. This happened with Shah Bano who was the victim of triple talaq and one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court,” Rajan said. She, however, questioned the mention of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in the law and said that it is an NGO and by mentioning their name it is like giving them a sanctity. Faiz also shared the view of Rizwana and Razia that the government could have also brought a law making the unethical practice of polygamy null and void and protected lakhs of Muslim women. “At least this government has done something and a new beginning has been made. Amendments keep on happening in the law but the start has been made,” she said. Faiz who fiercely argued against the practice of talaq- e-biddat (triple talaq) said the government should have enhanced the imprisonment term from three to seven years and made it a sessions court triable offence. “Misguided husband, who were till now able to go scot- free after pronouncing triple talaq to wife, will now be deterred from the practice. “No one will listen to Maulanas and misuse the practice which has been made null and void by the Supreme Court as police can lodge the case and initiate criminal trial against him,” she said. Rizwana, a Railway employee who had approached the apex court for abolishing the practice of polygamy, said, “With polygamy still in practice, abolition of triple talaq cannot alone help us.”