Is NDA in chaos on personal law?

New Delhi, 18 May: The centre seems running on two tracks by questioning the constitutional validity of triple talaq. As the recent views of union government are an irony of what it said earlier.

In 2001, the then NDA government had claimed that personal law could be a legitimate basis for discrimination, counsel for All India Muslim Personal Board Kapil Sibal told the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

While debating, Sibal said that personal law practice like triple talaq could not be termed either right or wrong as it is a matter of faith and hence fell outside the purview of the test of constitutional morality. But attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said since the board claims it to be part of personal law, it must meet gender justice, equality and women’s dignity as mandated in the Constitution.

Sibal asserted that after the apex court in the Shah Bano case ruled that a divorced Muslim woman was entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of CrPC beyond the ‘iddat’ period if she had not remarried and was unable to maintain herself, Parliament had enacted the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 to step around the ruling in 1985.

This law was challenged by Danial Latifi and the SC judgment in this case in 2001 recorded the then NDA government’s submissions through its solicitor general, who had defended the validity of the Act saying, “Personal law is a legitimate basis for discrimination, if at all, and, therefore, does not offend Article 14 of the Constitution.”

Sibal said that “The governments have changed and the law officers have changed. And, there is a change of stand now. Then they had argued what AIMPLB argues today that perceived discrimination in personal law practices could not be termed to be violative of Article 14. But the NDA government now argues that triple talaq, a personal law practice, must be struck down because it is discriminatory.”

Sibal did not mention that matters of a community’s faith, depending on the exigencies of a situation, had always been a matter of convenience for any government, be it NDA or UPA.

He also gave another example of September 2007 when the UPA government had filed an affidavit in the SC in the case relating to dredging of Rama Sethu in Palk Strait, which was challenged by petitioners, including Subramanian Swamy, arguing that the Sethu is a place of worship and matter of faith for Hindus.

 Wefornews Bureau

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