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4-March-2024-Special-Article

March 4 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

MUSLIM PERSONAL LAWS

The Assam Government’s recent approval of the Assam Repealing Ordinance 2024, repealing the dated Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act of 1935, marks a significant step in aligning state legislation with contemporary norms.

Assam Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act, 1935:

  • Background: Enacted in 1935, the Act aligns with Muslim Personal Law and outlines the procedure for registering Muslim marriages and divorces.
  • Compulsory Registration: A 2010 amendment made registration compulsory, replacing the term ‘voluntary.’ This empowered the state to issue licenses for the registration of marriages and divorces through Muslim registrars, treated as public servants.
  • Process: The Act delineates the application process for registration, involving the registrar. However, it has been subject to criticism for outdated practices.

Reasons Behind the Repeal:

  • Alignment with Contemporary Norms: The Act allowed marriages below legal ages, conflicting with current legal standards.
  • Crackdown on Child Marriage: Repeal is tied to efforts against child marriage, removing provisions allowing underage marriage registrations.
  • Informal Mechanism and Misuse: The Act’s informal nature led to allegations of misuse, particularly involving kazis, raising concerns about the credibility of registrations.
  • Move towards Uniform Civil Code (UCC): The decision aligns with UCC objectives, seeking uniformity across communities under a single legal framework.

Arguments Against the Repeal:

  • Simplicity and Decentralization: Critics argue that the Act’s simplicity facilitated decentralized registrations through kazis, serving the poor and illiterate effectively.
  • Complexities of Special Marriage Act: The Special Marriage Act, which the repeal redirects to, is considered more complex and may deter some individuals, especially those from vulnerable sections.
  • Legal Challenges: The Act faced opposition from advocates and political parties, raising concerns about potential consequences of unregistered marriages.

Muslim Personal Law in the Public Eye:

  • Legal Reform and Judicial Intervention: Landmark cases, such as the Triple Talaq case in 2017, have triggered debates on reforming Muslim personal law, focusing on issues like instant divorce and women’s rights.
  • Gender Justice and Women’s Rights: Concerns about gender justice and women’s rights within Muslim personal law have gained attention, particularly regarding practices like triple talaq and nikah halala.
  • Societal Change and Activism: Evolving societal attitudes and increased activism around gender equality have led to scrutiny of Muslim personal law, urging reforms.
  • Political Dynamics: Muslim personal law has become a political issue, often intersecting with broader political agendas, drawing significant public attention and discourse.
  • Constitutional Principles: Recognition of the need to uphold constitutional principles of equality, justice, and non-discrimination is growing, prompting calls for reforms.

Muslim Personal Law:

About:

  • Governs personal matters for individuals adhering to Islam, derived from the Quran, Hadith, and Islamic jurisprudence.

Issues:

  • Allows polygamy, ‘nikah halala,’ instant divorce, and other practices criticized for gender discrimination.

Application in India:

Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937:

  • Formulated an Islamic law code for Indian Muslims, allowing them to follow their cultural norms within a legal framework.

Issues Addressed:

  • Regulates aspects like marriage, divorce, inheritance, and family relations according to Sharia, distinguishing laws for Hindus and Muslims.

Personal Laws in Other Religions:

Comparison:

  • Hindu Succession Act, Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, and Hindu Marriage Act provide legal frameworks for their respective communities.

Way Forward:

  • Gradual Reforms: A gradual approach to reforming personal laws, including Muslim personal law, is essential for aligning them with modern societal norms.
  • Legislative Reforms: Reforms should uphold constitutional values while respecting religious diversity, ensuring a comprehensive review, stakeholder consultations, and public awareness initiatives.
  • Empowering Women: Prioritize women’s empowerment, agency, and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • Institutional Strengthening: Strengthen institutional capacity and monitor implementation for effective reforms.

Conclusion:

The Assam Repealing Ordinance 2024 reflects the evolving dynamics surrounding personal laws, particularly Muslim personal law. The decision necessitates a careful balance between modernization, protection of individual rights, and preservation of cultural diversity. As the legal landscape transforms, a nuanced and inclusive approach becomes imperative for meaningful and equitable reforms.

Mains Question:

  1. Customs and traditions suppress reason leading to obscurantism. Do you agree? (150 WORDS)

Details

Date:
March 4
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: