AIMPLB must wake up to see its irrelevance

Faced with near-certain defeat in the Supreme Court, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has fallen back on the lamest of excuses.

 |  3-minute read |   19-05-2017
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The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) appears to be tripping all over itself in responding to the growing momentum in favour of outlawing triple talaq. It first described instant triple talaq as "wrong", but "valid", then described it as a "matter of faith", hence not subject to judicial review and later came up with the plea that it was a "dying practice" which might end up being "revived", if challenged in the courts or debated in secular forums.

What is worse is that the AIMPLB in its affidavit to the Supreme Court took up positions that sound not just obscurantist, but also outrageous. Consider this, the board told the court that "when a serious discord develops in a marriage and the husband wants to get rid of the wife — due to legal compulsions and time-consuming judicial process... in extreme cases, the  husband may resort to illegal criminal ways of getting rid of her by murdering her. In such situations triple talaq is a better recourse".

The AIMPLB even went ahead to call men and women as unequal, "Marriage is a contract in which both parties are not physically equal. Male is stronger and female is a weaker sex," the board said in its affidavit.

kapil-body_051917063341.jpgThe AIMPLB first described triple talaq as 'wrong', but 'valid', then described it as a 'matter of faith', hence not subject to judicial review.

In a last-ditch effort to stave off a drastic overhaul by the courts, the AIMPLB has indicated that it is willing to ask the qazis to provide Muslim women the option of keeping out the much-abused triple talaq practice out of their marriage contracts, and ask for a large amount of alimony. The board also clarified that its suggestions are advisory in nature and it cannot guarantee of its effects.

The AIMPLB's gesture has come a bit late in the day. In all likelihood, the apex court will strike down the practice of triple talaq as illegal. It also comes after the apex court reserved its judgment on the issue.

Even this minor "concession" stemmed from the court's suggestion that the board direct the qazis tasked with solemnising marriages to stop prevent men from divorcing their wives on a whim by merely uttering talaq three times in one go. 

Not only has the AIMPLB ended up shooting itself in the foot, in persisting with its obscurantist views and steadfastly refusing to reform, it has set itself on a collision course with women within the Muslim community. Its position is clearly out of sync with the mood within the community specially amongst Muslim women. A point that was driven home by an emphatic and near-unanimous "no" in the courtroom when Kapil Sibal, the counsel for the board, suggested that women accept the sin of instant triple talaq.

The government has made it abundantly clear that it will bring in a matrimony law for Muslims once the courts strike down triple talaq. Faced with near-certain defeat in the Supreme Court, the AIMPLB has fallen back on the lamest of excuses, claiming that doing away with triple talaq will be viewed as an attempt to infringe on its personal law and could prompt a backlash within the Muslim community.

The moment of reckoning for the outdated and male-dominated AIMPLB has arrived. It continues to be stuck in the past and has so far steadfastly refused to reform its definitions of what comprises the welfare of the community, and consequently is now faced with the possibility of becoming irrelevant both within the community and in the court of law.

Also read: Triple talaq: Is appeasing Muslim patriarchy the sole purpose of AIMPLB and Kapil Sibal?


Javed M Ansari Javed M Ansari @javedmansari

The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst.

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