SC mainstreams assertions of Muslim women’s rights

Supreme Court of India

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SC ruling on Muslim women maintenance rights may herald UCC

By Manish Anand

New Delhi, July 11: Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah on Thursday said that a lot has to be done for the wellbeing of women and backward castes. He was reacting to the Supreme Court asserting that the rights of maintenance equally apply to the Muslim women.

“We have a lot to do for the wellbeing of women. We will come out with schemes to give effect for their development,” said Abdullah, while reacting to the apex court order.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday had ruled entitlement of Muslim women for maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). In a pathbreaking judgment, the apex court ruled that the Section 125 of the CrPC applies secularly to women of all communities, including Muslims.

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The Supreme Court ruling adds to the efforts to assert the right to equality of Muslim women. The parliament by criminalizing the practice of triple talaq among the Muslim community had erased the legacy of the subversion of the Shah Bano judgment.

The Supreme Court Justices BV Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih gave the landmark ruling on Wednesday. They ruled the maintenance is a fundamental right.

The reiteration of the equal rights of women from the apex court has come at a time when politics of the day has taken a definitive change. Even the claimants of the politics of secularism take extra care to not be seen appeasing the minority community.

This puts the apex court ruling amid the most congenial atmosphere for acceptance. The utterances of the Muslim leaders are nuanced.

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Much waters have flown into the Ganes since the subversion of the Shah Bano judgment of the Supreme Court by then Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government at the Centre. The social media platforms have become the super watchdogs of the political parties.

It may be noted that the apex court ruled on an appeal of Mohd Abdul Samad. He had appealed against the Telangana High Court upholding the order if a family court’s maintenance order to him.

He argued that the case belongs solely to the domain of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986. This was the legislation that Rajiv Gandhi-led government had enacted upon the fear of losing the minority votes in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections.

The apex court once again has asserted its pivotal role in heralding changes in the society, while also being the protector of the rights of the citizens. The ruling may also spur the Central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to go a whole hog with the Uniform Civil Code (UCC), at least in the matters of marriages.

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