Muslim personal law ‘unjust, barbaric, outdated’, Markandey Katju says

Press Council of India chairman MarkandeyKatju on Tuesday favoured a uniform civil law in the country, saying the Muslim personal law is “unjust” as it treats women as “inferior”.

“Muslim personal law is an unjust law, it is a barbaric, outdated law because it treats women as inferior. Oral talaq is permitted only to men,” he said.

He claimed that even Hindu law was similarly feudal in nature but changes were made in it after “tremendous efforts” by Jawaharlal Nehru.
There was a time when a Hindu man could marry as many wives and property was inherited only by the son, he claimed.

According to Katju, in the age of equality the same law should be applicable to both men and women.

“If a Muslim woman wants divorce she has to approach a court but a husband can get it by only saying ‘talaq’ thrice,” he said.

“Every modern country has one single law for everybody, it is only here because vote banks are needed,” Katju, who was speaking at an interaction organized by Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC), said.

Asked specifically if he favoured a uniform civil law, he relied saying, “Yes, absolutely.”

Speaking about corruption in judiciary, he said it was not there when he had joined but the situation has changed gradually.

Katju said that there is a view that the image of judiciary should not be defamed but added that those indulging in corruption were the ones who were defaming it.

He said whenever something came to his knowledge when he was in office, he would inform authorities concerned like in certain matters the Chief Justice of India so that proper action could be taken.

On a question related to National Judicial Commission, he said that if the people manning a system are right, it will function well.

Speaking further he said that there is no mention of any collegium system in the Constitution.

Asked whether he favoured a cooling period for judges before they take up important positions, Katju said that he did not think there is anything wrong in a retired judge being appointed to a position by the government.

He, however, added that if somebody does something wrong after being appointed he should be criticised.

He also said that evils like honour killings and dowry deaths related offences prevail in the society and added that he was in favour of strict punishment being meted out to perpetrators of such crimes.

Asked whether a separate law is needed to address so-called ‘honour crimes’, Katju claimed the reality was sometimes some chief ministers do not want to antagonize certain caste groups because of which the administration turns a blind eye to some of the wrongdoings.

On whether he was disappointed that his demand to include electronic media and rename press council has not been accepted by the government, he replied in the affirmative.