Jaitley slams Cong over triple talaq abolition remark

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI file photo

'History has repeated itself with a mindset of cruelty', Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday lambasting Congress for its declaration about abolishing triple talaq law  if it came to power in 2019 and compared it with the “monumental mistake” of late Rajiv Gandhi of legislatively overturning Shah Bano judgment of the Supreme Court in 1987. which guaranteed maintenance to all Muslim women.
 
Speaking at the AICC minorities convention in the presence of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev on Thursday said that the party would abolish the Triple Talaq law if it was voted to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
A day after, Jaitley came down heavily on Congress calling the assertion “retrograde” and cited two “repulsive” cases, which happened due to the practice of triple talaq.
 
“The AICC President Rahul Gandhi and his coterie, while addressing a minority convention promised to withdraw the Bill pending in the Parliament, penalising Triple Talaq. History has repeated itself, neither as a satire nor as a tragedy. It has repeated itself with a mindset of cruelty. The late Rajiv Gandhi committed a monumental mistake in legislatively overturning the Shah Bano judgment of the Supreme Court which guaranteed maintenance to all muslim women. He allowed deserted women to be driven to poverty and destitution.
 
“Thirty-two years later his son has taken another retrograde step to drive them not merely into destitution but also to live a life which is an antithesis of human existence. e that they shake the conscience of the society and compel it to take remedial measures. Injustice perpetuated by personal laws is a glaring example of this,” Jaitley said.
 
The hurried measure taken by the Congress government in 1987 of upturning the Shah Bano judgement had given the BJP a handy tool to paint Congress as a party of minority appeasement. The move was severely criticised even by independent thinkers then.
 
Modi government, which is betting big on triple talaq move, projecting it as a major step towards empowering women in Muslim community, has repeatedly accused Congress of denying women its rights due to its appeasement politics.  BJP believes that since women, which have often behaved like caste or community neutral constituency, the triple talaq bill will endear the party among Muslim women even as the community otherwise is not enthused to vote for it.
 
BJP has projected this move as “apolitical”  “Votes are important, so is fairness,” Jaitley wrote.
 
 As BJP is keen to project the 2019 electoral battle as Narendra Modi versus Rahul  Gandhi, Jaitley in the post also wrote “Political opportunists only look at the next day’s Headlines. Nation-builders look at the next Century.”
 
The Union Minister argued that many communities, over the last several decades, have brought incremental but significant changes in their personal laws, whose object and directions has been that gender equality is ensured, rights of women and children are protected and the right to live with dignity is ensured.
 
He cited the abolition of obnoxious practices such as Sati and Untouchability among Hindus as a case in point
 
“A recent case from Bareilly has shocked my conscience. It relates to the obnoxious practice of Nikah-halala in Islamic personal law. A lady who is married in 2009 was twice divorced by her husband through Triple Talaq, once in 2011 and subsequently in 2017. The family prevailed upon the husband to accept her back. On both occasions, she was sedated and asked to undergo, Nikah-halala, on the first occasion with her father-in-law and on the subsequent occasion with her brother-in-law. They both raped her,” Jaitley pointed out.
 
He also referred to a similar incident in the Sambhal District of Uttar Pradesh. “That in the 21st Century there could be such gross violation of the dignity of women in the world’s largest democracy should make every head hang in shame. After raping this lady, both the father-in-law and brother-in-law used the weapon of Triple Talaq to divorce the victim so that she could be accepted by her husband. “
 
Citing the incidents, the Union  Minister asked if Triple Talaq had not been a permitted mode of divorce in India, would this incident emanating from a no-fault – impulsive divorce have taken place.
 
He flagged that though the Supreme Court has already declared instant talaq as unconstitutional and yet in the absence of a deterrent it can at best amount to a civil wrong with no penal consequences.
 
Batting for the triple talaq law, Jaitley said a number of Muslim men and conservatives are choosing to even ignore the Supreme Court judgment and rued that Congress talked about abolishing the triple talaq bill “unfortunately when human conscience should have been repelled while reading this news (Bareilly) in the morning newspapers.”
 
 

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Jaitley slams Cong over triple talaq abolition remark

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