[<<We reiterate that the present Act that is sought to be introduced by the
Government with undue haste, is ill-conceived and flawed. In any case if
the Government insists on pressing the Bill then it must be referred to the
Standing Committee so that all those affected by the Bill can have an
opportunity to argue their case. Any move to push through the Bill will not
only be undemocratic but will be doing an injustice to those whom the
Government claims will benefit from it.>>

http://indianculturalforum.in/2018/02/08/women-delegation-to-law-ministry-muslim-womenprotection/

Women Delegates Write to Law Ministry on the Bill of the Muslim Women
(Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2017
Press Release

AIDWA

February 8, 2018

A delegation comprising of P.K Sreemathi (M.P Loksabha),  Sudha
Sundararaman    (Vice-President) , Kirti Singh (Legal Convenor, AIDWA)
S.Punyavathi (Vice-President) ,  Tapasi Praharaj (National Secretary) ,
Asha Sharma  (General Secretary, Delhi JMS)    Maimoona Mollah
 (President, Delhi JMS) met the Law Minister and submitted a memorandum
regarding the Bill of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage)
Act, 2017, bringing to his attention the concerns of various women’s
organizations and individuals about it.

The Law Minister gave a patient hearing to the views expressed by the
delegation and also explained the government’s stand point. He assured that
the government would examine the questions raised in the memorandum
seriously.

The Memorandum which had been endorsed by many women’s organisations and
individuals was disseminated at a joint press meet held on February 8th,
2018 at 3 pm in the IWPC is attached. The press meet was addressed by Kirti
Singh, Sudha Sundararaman, S Punyavathi, Shabnam Hashmi, Sheeba Aslam Fehmi
and Maimoona Mollah.

To,

Sh. Ravi Shankar Prasad,

Hon’ble Law Minister,

Ministry of Law and Justice,

Shashtri Bhawan,

New Delhi



Sub: The Bill of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act,
2017

Dear Sh. Prasad,

We the undersigned women’s organisations and individuals wish to lodge our
strong protest about the manner in which the government is seeking to push
through the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2017 in
Parliament.

All of us have been involved with the campaign and struggle against Triple
Talaq for several decades and welcomed the Supreme Court judgment setting
aside this abhorrent practice.

We are, therefore extremely surprised that neither Muslim women (groups,
organisations, concerned individuals, well-known social workers or as a
whole), nor women’s organisations, nor others concerned with the issue were
consulted before the present Bill was very hastily drafted.

We feel that the Bill is flawed for a number of reasons including the fact
that it criminalizes Triple Talaq.

We further feel that there was no urgency in bringing forth such a Bill as
the Supreme Court, by a majority, had already held that the practice of
Triple Talaq was invalid and it was wrong for the government to cite the
minority judgment, which is not binding, to bring forth the legislation.

The bill prescribes a punishment of up to three years imprisonment for the
pronouncement of Triple Talaq and makes the crime cognizable and
non-bailable. We feel that turning a civil wrong into a criminal offence is
unjustified and legally flawed. In any case this draconian clause is
totally unnecessary and the punishment is disproportionate to the crime
alleged to have been committed. If along with the pronouncement of Triple
Talaq, the wife has been subjected to any mental and physical cruelty or
violence, she can approach the police under Section 498A of the Indian
Penal Code. Ironically, this provision is being sought to be diluted in
various ways with implicit and explicit government support. We strongly
feel that Section 498 A needs strengthening and better implementation.

By making the offence cognizable and non-bailable, the government wants to
permit anyone to file an FIR and hasn’t restricted this to the woman
concerned or even her relatives. This means that anyone from the public can
use the section, allege that the crime has been committed, and the police
can arrest the husband even if the wife does not want to take action.
Please note that the offences of "bigamy’"and "adultery" are both
non-cognizable and bailable, even though bigamy is punishable with
imprisonment for 7 years and adultery is punishable with imprisonment of up
to 5 years. Further, for the offence of Bigamy punishable under Section 494
of the Indian Penal Code, only the first wife can lodge a complaint.

We also feel that this section will be counterproductive and will further
aggravate the economic condition of the wife and children who will not be
able to ask for a suitable maintenance if the husband is in jail and unable
to work and earn. Additionally, the opportunity for reconciliation between
the parties will be lost if an FIR is registered and the husband is placed
under arrest.

The section allowing the wife to approach the magistrate’s court for a
subsistence allowance is also flawed. Why should the wife and children be
only allowed to ask for a subsistence allowance while the law of
maintenance for women and children in the country clearly lays down that
women and children should be given maintenance which will allow them to
live in the same lifestyle that they were living in the marital home or
‘shared household’?

The Supreme Court in Shayara Bano’s case has only outlawed Triple Talaq or
Talaq-e-Biddat. Thus, the other forms of Talaq which a husband can
pronounce in the Ahsan and Hasan forms have not been invalidated and
therefore still remain. The Supreme Court in Shamim Ara’s case had held
that, for any Talaq to take place, two Arbitrator’s have to be appointed;
one from the wife’s side and one from the husband’s side and they will try
to bring about reconciliation and examine whether the talaq is for a
reasonable cause. In the minority judgement in Shayara Bano’s case, the
Supreme Court had quoted the laws from several South-East Asian and other
Countries. Most of these laws laid down the procedure to be followed in
cases of talaq and outlawed Triple talaq. Some of these laws also dealt
with issues like maintenance, division of marital assets, and residence,
which the wife and children require immediately while  the divorce is
taking place. Some also stipulate that compensation should be paid for
injuries and hurt suffered by the wife. Only in the law in Pakistan and in
Bangladesh, a punishment of up to one year is prescribed for not following
the procedure laid down under their respective statutes. Some of these laws
also provide for Khula, and the Iraqi law exempts the wife from giving any
‘consideration’ for this. The best practices from some of these laws can be
looked at if any legislation has to be made.

We reiterate that the present Act that is sought to be introduced by the
Government with undue haste, is ill-conceived and flawed. In any case if
the Government insists on pressing the Bill then it must be referred to the
Standing Committee so that all those affected by the Bill can have an
opportunity to argue their case. Any move to push through the Bill will not
only be undemocratic but will be doing an injustice to those whom the
Government claims will benefit from it.

Thank you,

Yours sincerely,

All India Democratic Women’s Association (Mariam Dhawale, General
Secretary, Malini Bhattacharya, President)

All India Progressive Women’s Association (Kavita Krishnan, Secretary)

Guild of Service (Mohini Giri, Chairperson)

Joint Women's Programme (Dr. Jyotsna Chatterji, Director and Secretary)

Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan (Poonam Kaushik, General Secretary)

Swastik Mahila Samiti (Kusum Sehgal)

Saheli

Sewa (Nalini Nayak, Kerala)

YWCA of India (Vinodhini Moses, National General Secretary)

YWCA of India (Sheeba Verghes, Vice-President)

Ayesha Kidwai (Centre for Linguistics)

Dr. Meera Velayudhan, Policy Analyst, Centre For Development
Studies,Trivandrum

J Devika, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram

Mridul Eapen

Nandita Narain

Qudsia Anjum

Rana Safvi

Adv Ruksana Chaudhury

Sayeeda Hameed

Shabnam Hashmi (Social Activist)

Sheeba Aslam Fehmi

Suroor Mandar

Zoya Hasan
-- 
Peace Is Doable

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