Can politics over triple talaq be ignored?
New Delhi, August 22: The controversial practice of triple talaq has never been bereft of politics. Be it the studied silence of the Congress over large-scale discrimination of Muslim women as Muslim men under the garb of religious and constitutional sanctity are unilaterally divorcing their wives or the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) solid support to abolish triple talaq, political parties have always played "politics" over the issue, rather than taking a strong stand on the women's rights subject without hoping for any political mileage.
As the Supreme Court is all set to give its verdict on the constitutional validity of triple talaq on Tuesday, the question over politics over the practice has been widely discussed.
Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged leaders not to politicise the issue, but unfortunately triple talaq has been already politicised to a great extent, both by the BJP, the Congress and other parties.
While the Congress leaders like Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid maintain that "it's a matter of faith and the court should not interfere" and that the "practice is sinful, but legal", the BJP leaders have used the issue to target the minority community.
Sibal, who appeared for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), had earlier told the apex court that triple talaq was a matter of faith and the court should not interfere.
Former Union Minister Khurshid, who was allowed by the court to assist it as amicus curiae, said that the system of instant triple talaq "cannot be justified or given legal validity". He said the practice "was sinful but legal".
Modi as recently as on Independence Day celebrated, on August 15, hailed Muslim women for fighting against the practice of triple talaq and said the entire country was with them in their endeavour to get their rights.
"I pay my regards to the women who had to lead a pitiable life due to triple talaq and have started a movement which has created an environment in the entire country against the practice."
In April, Modi urged Muslims to keep the debate over triple talaq away from politics.
"I am sure enlightened people will emerge from among Muslims and come forward to end this practice, liberating our Muslim daughters and mothers from the scourge."
"Come out and find a solution. That solution will have its own majesty and generations will remember you," Modi said.
He called upon India's Muslims to show the "path of modernity" to Muslims across the world. "That is the kind of power and energy this land gives to all of us."
BJP's Swami Prasad Maurya said a few months ago that Muslims use triple talaq to satisfy their "lust". The Hindu right wing group and the ideological head of the BJP, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been vocal in calling for an end to the practice of triple talaq.
The BJP and the RSS want to do away with the idea of personal laws and replace them with a Uniform Civil Code. The controversial proposal of the BJP and the RSS for implementation of a Uniform Civil Code has been opposed by the Muslim community tooth and nail.
Ahead of the apex court's verdict, the AIMPLB said that the constitution of India has given a right to everyone to follow their religion, adding that triple talaq is part of the Shariat.
Member of AIMPLB and Muslim cleric Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali said that he hopes that the apex court would not interfere with the Muslim Personal law.
Even activist have spoken about the political side of triple talaq. Flavia Agnes, a prominent women's rights lawyer, said triple talaq has become typical low-lying fruit that everybody can write on.
Speaking at a seminar at Aliah University in Kolkata earlier, Agnes said that illiteracy and lack of awareness were the biggest problems when it came to women rights.
"Talaq does not extinguish her economic rights, [the ban] is not a magic wand that will solve all her problems. We have created an image that Muslim women have no rights because husbands can pronounce triple talaq," she said.
The Muslim Women's Act of 1986 Act has a provision for "fair and reasonable settlement after divorce", she said.
"The whole debate is skewed and political, catering to the ruling government's Muslim bashing agenda, and media is a prime player in this."
No matter, what political parties have to say, one thing is clear, a large-section of Muslim women wants an abolition of triple talaq. That is why several Muslim women and organisations have filed a clutch of petitions in the Supreme Court which have challenged the practice of triple talaq as "unlawful and unconstitutional".