Asserting that “Personal laws of a community cannot be rewritten in the name of social reform,” the All India Muslim Personal Law Board defended the validity of triple talaq before the Supreme Court.
Some of the arguments presented by the board drew a lot of flak as it said that if the practice is discontinued, a man could murder or burn his wife alive to get rid of her.
The affidavit submitted by AIMPLB on Friday, stated that “If there develops serious discord between the couple, and the husband does not at all want to live with her, legal compulsions of time-consuming separation proceedings and expenses may deter him from taking the legal course. In such instances, he may resort to illegal, criminal ways of murdering or burning her alive.”
Adding more to this shocking statement the board said, “Granting a husband the right to divorce indirectly provides security to the wife. Marriage is a contract in which both parties are not physically equal. Male is stronger and female weaker sex. Man is not dependent on woman for his protection. On the contrary, she needs him for her defence,” in the affidavit, adding that triple talaq wards off the possibility of a rise in murders of women whose husbands want to divorce them.
The board also said that divorce proceedings instead of triple talaq could damage a woman’s chances of re-marriage if the husband indicts her of loose character in court.
Further talking about Polygamy, the affidavit submitted in the court said that polygamy was a “social need” and a “blessing” for women because “an unlawful mistress is more harmful for social fabric than a lawful second wife”. The affidavit argued that the death rate of men was higher since it was mostly men who died in accidents, and since women outnumbered men, not permitting polygamy would force women “into leading a spinster’s life”.
“Polygamy ensures sexual purity and chastity and whenever polygamy has been banned, it emerges from history that illicit sex has raised its head,” stated the affidavit. It added that if polygamy is not allowed, a man would divorce an ailing wife, or he might have an extra-marital relationship.
“In all above instances, polygamy is a blessing, not a curse for women, polygamy is the solution to the problem of divorced women and widows. Women should appreciate this point that if the ratio of women is higher, would they prefer wedlock for fellow women, or let them be illicit mistresses of men, without any of the rights which a wife gets,” said the AIMPLB, citing some surveys to claim that Muslims have the lowest rate of polygamy in India.
The AIMPLB asked the Supreme Court to not intervene in the matter by saying that principles of marriage, talaq and polygamy are interwoven with religious and cultural rights of Muslims, which cannot be touched upon by any court on the ground of violation of fundamental rights.
Blaming “communal” organisations for running a propaganda regarding prevalence of polygamy among Muslims to instil fear in the majority community, the board also argued that it’s “rather strange” that the court recognises live-in relationships without marriage worthy of protection should frown upon a relationship which is formalised by the sanctity of marriage.
The board claimed that Muslim Personal Law, based on the Quran, provided for the rights of Muslim women and practiced freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion guaranteed under Article 25 and 26 read with Article 29 of the Constitution of India.
It also emphasised pronouncement of triple talaq in one go was “undesirable and irregular”, various Islamic jurists and religious scholars have unanimously agreed that the effect of triple talaq in one go was that it effectively terminated the marriage. Also, even if divorce was pronounced irregularly without any valid reason, the affidavit said, it would still result in termination of marriage.
The AIMPLB sought dismissal of a PIL by a Muslim woman, who has challenged the validity of instantaneous and unilateral pronouncement of triple talaq, apart from a ban on polygamy. It is on her petition that the board was asked by a bench, led by Chief Justice TS Thakur, to submit its response.