Ban polygamy, Muslim group tells Modi

New Delhi: Seeking “justice and equality for Muslim women”, a Muslim group has demanded a ban on polygamy and compulsory registration of marriages to secure equality and dignity to Muslim women.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) said that Indian Muslims needed to have their own codified personal law “which ensures equality and dignity to Muslim women”.

“Almost all Muslim countries world over such as Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and even Bangladesh and Pakistan have codified personal laws governing marriage and family matters,” the group said.

“Thanks to the self-appointed conservative leaders, Indian Muslims are denied this opportunity. As a result, we see instances of triple talaq and polygamy in our society,” it said.

About three weeks ago, Supreme Court judges Anil Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel asked the National Legal Services Authority of India to reply by November 23 whether gender discrimination suffered by Muslim women should not be considered a violation of the fundamental rights under articles 14, 15 and 21 of the constitution and international covenants.

The letter to Modi said that from the Shah Bano case in 1985, Muslim women had never been heard in matters concerning their lives “thanks to the politics in our country.

“Certain orthodox and patriarchal males have dominated the debate on rights of Muslim women and have stone-walled any attempt towards reform in Muslim personal law.

“In the process, the Muslim women have been denied their Quranic rights as well as their rights as equal Indian citizens,” it said.

It said justice for Indian Muslim women can be enabled through amendments to the Shariat Application Act, 1937, and the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 or a completely new enactment of Muslim personal law.

It said the minimum age of marriage of girl should be 18 years and for boy, 21 years. Consent of both parties must be obtained without force or fraud.

It said polygamy should be declared illegal, and both mother and father must be declared natural guardians of the child.

In property matters, Quranic shares must be applied after making a will and clearing debts, it said, adding that daughters must get equal share as sons.

It also said that the Qazi should be held accountable for violations during ‘talaq’, polygamy and such other matters

The letter urged Modi “to take into account the constitutional rights of Muslim women as well as their opinions towards equality and justice in any further legal measures that your government may decide to pursue”.

Copies of the letter have also been sent to Law Minister Sadananda Gowda, Minister of State for Minorities Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, National Commission for Women chair Lalitha Kumaramangalam and the Law Commission of India.