Mumbai: Noted women's rights lawyer, writer and author Flavia Agnes, while hinting that all the hullabaloo seen today in the name of instant Triple Talaq is no more than politics, said that the issue was actually settled by the Indian courts decades ago but it was not highlighted.
"In the Shamim Ara case in 2002, the Supreme Court laid down the correct procedure for pronouncing talaq. Even earlier there were judgements of Justice Barul Islam of the Guwahati High Court in 1981 where the procedure for pronouncing talaq was laid down", Flavia Agnes, co-founder of Majlis, a legal and cultural resource centre that campaigns for and provides legal representation to women and children, said in reply to a question in an interview with IndiaSpend.
"Since 1981 to 2002 various High Courts had followed the Guwahati judgement. So the issue that arbitrary triple talaq is invalid was already settled. But these judgements were not highlighted in the media", she said.
"Similarly in another important judgement, Danial Latifi vs Union of India in 2001, the Supreme Court held that a divorced Muslim woman is entitled to a fair and reasonable settlement for her entire life. But no one bothered to highlight this historic judgement and media continued to project that after divorce a Muslim woman is devoid of rights", Agnes said.
"Also the fact that Muslim women are entitled to relief under the Domestic Violence Act has not been sufficiently highlighted in the media. So every time we have approached the magistrate’s court to protect a Muslim woman under this Act, the other side have argued that a Muslim woman is not entitled to claim relief under this Act and this is simply because media had not highlighted this issue enough", she added.
Agnes also said that the issue of triple talaq was not before the Supreme Court even then a Constitution bench was set up to examine the matter.
"A bench of the Supreme Court while denying a Hindu woman right to ancestral property, totally out of context, then made a reference that a Constitution Bench be set up to examine the lack of rights of Muslim women though this was not an issue before the court", she said.
In the same interview, Flavia Agnes rejected the objections raised by right wing Hindu organisations and people associated with the ruling dispensation, about Darul Qazas being run by All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) saying they are similar to Church Tribunals and Village Panchayats.
"Even among Christians and Hindus such alternatives are available. Christians have their own Church Tribunals and many lower caste Hindus approach their Caste Panchayats or Village Panchayats to resolve family disputes", Flavia Agnes said in reply to a question.
A Darul Qaza is in reality dispute resolution centres arbitrated by religious law experts. But it is wrongly attributed as Shariah Court or a parallel system opposing or undermining the country's judiciary.
"An impression seems to have been created that this move to set up Darul Qazas in every district is driven by an objective to undermine the impact of the recent constitutional bench ruling in the triple talaq (Shayara Bano vs Union of India) case, which had declared triple talaq invalid last August. But this premise has no basis since darul qazas have been functioning in India for a long time", she said in reply to another question.
Agnes also said that Darul Qazas, like Village Panchayats and Church Tribunals, are actually helping the judiciary and sharing its burden by resolving family disputes at their level.
"Today our judiciary is clogged and cases drag on for a very long time. So actually solving disputes through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like Lok Adalats (People’s Courts), mediation centres etc. are encouraged", Agnes, said.
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