Source: The Hitavada      Date: 21 Sep 2018 10:38:48


FINALLY, with the signature of President Mr. Ram Nath Kovind on the Central Government’s ordinance making instant triple talaq an offence, with a three-year jail term for the husband, a very major step towards empowerment of women and larger social justice has been achieved. No matter the opposition to the idea of scrapping triple talaq from various quarters, the Supreme Court had scrapped the practice some time ago. Now, the Union Cabinet has passed a resolution to issue an ordinance to ban instant triple talaq, making it an offence. There is no doubt that the step would make a massive difference to the country’s social justice scenario.

The statement welcoming the new law by none other than Ms. Ishrat Jahan, the woman who had filed a petition against the practice of instant triple talaq has its own importance. For, she represents a suppressed voice of countless women who were not allowed to express their opinion on the issue. Following the Supreme Court’s verdict sometime back, the country had seen a lot of agitations involving huge numbers of Muslim women and men opposing the step. That chain of events had tried to create a picture that the entire Muslim community was opposed to scrapping of the practice of triple talaq. However, the larger Indian society knew that it was a politically-driven facade of opposition that was counter-balanced by perhaps a larger number of people who could not speak their minds out on account of oppressive leadership of one section of the population.

All those details are now unimportant as a proper law is in place to make instant triple talaq a serious offence that could fetch a three-year imprisonment to the man who opts for instant triple talaq. As Union Law Minister Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad made it clear, the Union Cabinet’s nod for the ordinance had become necessary because the Government noticed that the cases of instant triple talaq were on the rise despite the Supreme Court’s verdict. Mr. Prasad’s statement published in the media does not state if the Government suspected a deliberate attempt to subvert the process of law when it noticed a continued practice of instant triple talaq. No matter those details, the Government has acted decisively in the larger interest of appropriate social justice and women’s empowerment.

This development conceals in its folds many significant messages for the larger Indian society and not just to Muslim community. The most critical among those messages pertains to many untoward practices that still haunt the larger Indian society, beyond class and caste and creed barriers. Dowry is one such custom that is prevalent in many communities several decades after the practice was scrapped legally and socially.

We keep hearing about cases of torture and subsequent dowry deaths of married women. That such practices still continue to dog the larger Indian society, is a matter of not just social shame but also of the ignominy of an ugly collective karma that will never take the Indian society to great heights. Another bad practice is about social sanction to caste, on the basis of which several wrong practices prevail in the Indian society. Despite the very progressive legislation scrapping caste as a social barrier, Indian society still attaches a great importance to caste. This has distorted the social fabric to terrible shape. Yet, the Indian society as such is still unwilling to scrap the caste system altogether.

There are many such issues that still haunt the Indian society. The scrapping of instant triple talaq, therefore, has given us an opportunity to learn the right lessons from the latest development and mend our ways by pondering over our social evils. If that can be done as a collective social endeavour, we can hope to have a truly seamless society in which harmony is the abiding virtue and warm togetherness an essential value.