By Sandeep B
December 30, 2009
Muslim Law Board’s criticism of SC judgement upholding the right of a divorced woman to get maintenance from her husband smacks of an attempt to foster separatist tendencies
Every application by a divorced woman under Section 125… of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, pending before a Magistrate on the commencement of this Act shall, notwithstanding anything contained in that code… be disposed of by such Magistrate in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”
This quote is from that spectacular, Congress-created monster called the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. That it was one of the chief factors leading to Rajiv Gandhi’s downfall is purely incidental, and depending on which side of the fence you are on, equally led to the rise of ‘Hindu fundamentalism’. Also, that the entire Red Spectrum rues till date that this Act was the undoing of about 40 years’ of their ‘hard work’ is also incidental. But all these are incidental because we see subtle portents that this phenomenon is eminently capable of self-renewal. All it needs is a simple perpetuation of the current political climate.
On December 4, a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Deepak Verma and Sudarshan Reddy upheld the right of a divorced Muslim woman, Shabana Bano to receive maintenance from her husband.
I don’t believe in the supernatural but it’s slightly eerie that the latest victim of that Congress party-created monster shares the same last name as her predecessor, Shah Bano. This news appeared in a remote corner in the newspapers in direct contrast to the Shah Bano affair, which in the 1980s was both front-page news and the subject of passionate editorials that played out for months.
Predictably, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has issued a veiled threat of sorts. It has chastised the Supreme Court’s judgement as a “direct interference in Muslim personal law” and “against the Shariat.” In keeping with the times, it has pulled a buy-one-get-one-free stunt. To quote Mr Khalid Rashid the spokesperson, “the AIMPLB will … apprise the Government of its stand on… the SC verdict awarding maintenance to Shabana Bano and the Liberhan Commission report.” We wonder how the two are connected.
The AIMPLB today amounts next to nothing compared to its phenomenal power of communal blackmailing in the heady 1980s and early 1990s. But it’s better to be on guard and call its bluff before it decides to get bolder. Indeed, Shah Bano happened because we failed to nip such divisive calls in the bud. Perhaps the AIMPLB has forgotten that Indian Muslims are Indians first and everything else later. The AIMPLB’s statement can reasonably be interpreted as a stealth-attempt at encouraging and fostering separatist tendencies.
The Supreme Court doesn’t really care what the Shariat says and consequently doesn’t need to give a whit about ‘interfering’ in Muslim personal law. India is not Saudi Arabia.
The AIMPLB’s attack of the Supreme Court’s judgement only highlights the plight of poor Muslim women and the urgent need to address this. The National Commission for Women given its 17-year-old history has done precious little to help these women. Those in the celebrity cocktail issues circuit haven’t had any ‘spontaneous’ emotional outbursts at the heart-rending situation of Shabana Bano. Perhaps Shabana Bano’s ‘crime’ of being unable to bring in the dowry demanded by her husband’s family isn’t chic enough in the secularist and women’s liberation quarters. To be fair, a lone article in the Indian Express welcomed the Supreme Court’s judgement. But that article didn’t delve into the fundamentals, something everybody wants to avoid. Also, the (non) Opposition, the BJP is yet to emerge from stupor given that the Shah Bano affair was one of its biggest scoring points back then.
And what everybody wants to avoid even mentioning is the fact that Indian society cannot survive for long unless a solid Uniform Civil Code is implemented starting now. But the history of Muslim appeasement that began under Jawaharlal Nehru has, Frankenstein-like, spun out of control. The placation is only increasing with time and reached a miserable pitch when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proclaimed that Muslims have the first claim on nation’s resources: The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has already granted 100 per cent approval, and released funds for 21 districts in Uttar Pradesh to ‘uplift’ minorities with more districts to follow.
In a way, the AIMPLB is irrelevant today because the UPA has taken upon itself the task to systematically satisfy every whim of the minorities before they even demand it. And so, if the combined clerical might of the Muslim lobby applies enough pressure, the UPA might ‘reconsider’ the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of Shabana Bano.
But it’s an even greater pity that this issue is not getting the coverage it really deserves.
Source: The Pioneer, New Delhi