By LE Desk
New Delhi, March 31: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against a “blatant attempt” being made to take away the fundamental right of Muslim women to practice their religion, all in the guise of providing a “uniform law” across all faiths.
Amina Sherwani has asked the Supreme Court to hear her before deciding whether a uniform civil law for divorce, maintenance and alimony will leave Muslim women like her better-off.
In December last year, the Supreme Court had agreed to examine advocate A.K. Upadhyay’s plea for a single law covering divorce, maintenance and alimony for all religions. Upadhyay had argued that laws governing them in certain religions discriminate and marginalise women.
Sherwani says she represents women who follow the Islamic faith, who married according to the Muslim rites and traditions, and is a recipient of the rights and entitlements provided to her. She said their personal law allows Muslim women like her “such rights that may not be available under other marital laws”.
Sherwani said Upadhyay’s petition was a “deliberate attempt to interfere with the cultural and customary practices and usages that enjoy the protection of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution”, The Hindu reported.
The Muslim personal law provides a Muslim woman various options to divorce her husband. They include Talak-e-Tafweez (the wife’s right to divorce her husband is like that of the husband if the same has been incorporated in the nikahnama or where such a delegation has been made by the husband on a subsequent date); Khula — the wife can get her marriage dissolved through Darul Kaza (Shariat Court); Talak-e-Mubarrah — divorce by mutual consent; Fask — the wife can get an annulment of marriage through Darul Kaza; and finally, via the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939.
The application filed by Sherwani said, “Muslim marriage is contractual in nature and as such the parties to it are allowed to impose conditions for regulating their matrimonial relations. Such conditions can be imposed before the marriage or at the time of the marriage or even after the marriage”.
She said an avenue for resolution of matrimonial disputes through mediation is also provided for under Islamic matrimonial jurisprudence.
Sherwani also referred to ‘Mehr’, which is “considered to be a symbol of respect to the wife and as such it is meant to be substantial”.
“A meagre amount is wrong under Islamic principles. Further, if Mehr dues are not paid at the time of divorce, the wife is entitled to retain possession of her husband’s property. In case of refusal by the husband to pay the Mehr, the wife is entitled to live separately and during this period she is entitled to claim maintenance from her husband,” the application said.