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Supreme Court lawyer says criminalization of triple talaq goes against freedom of speech

The liberal brigade has clearly lost its mind over the passage of the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill 2017, also known as the Triple Talaq Bill. The main arguments against the bill during the Lok Sabha discussion can be summarized as below.

  • The law will not act as a deterrence just like the dowry prohibition act failed to stop dowry
  • Imprisonment will make reconciliation between the husband and wife more difficult
  • The person who is imprisoned may not be able to pay the subsistence allowance
  • Proving that the instant triple talaq has been delivered in a court of law will be difficult for women.
  • The bill has not taken into consideration the opinions of Muslim women and AIPMLB

Though all these arguments make an attempt to derail the bill, they have a semblance of logic or common sense that can be understood and appreciated to some extent. Someone who is liberal and compassionate can understand the merit of the arguments made above. One can at least give it a second thought.

But, I heard something on the Bloomberg TV’s show that was so ridiculous in its merit, that it would be tragic, if it wasn’t so amusing. A Supreme Court advocate Karuna Nandy said that criminalizing instant Triple Talaq is against free speech.

Between 2:10 to 2:30  in the video, the lawyer says this :

Saying Talaq Talaq Talaq is same as saying – Mein apko divorce de raha hoon.  In such a situation, are you going to criminalize that?  How can that be criminal? Isn’t that against free speech ?

Well, if it was as simple as that, then there would be no need for court battles and legislative action from the Parliament. The Supreme court has outlawed the practice of instant Triple Talaq, but has not provided any means to prevent and punish those who are violating its order. Hence, the police were not able to do anything even after receiving complaints from Muslim women.

Instant Triple Talaq is not same as saying – I want to divorce you , as per Karuna Nandy’s claim. It is finalization of divorce in an instant. If there is no punishment for a crime, then there will be no need for people to desist from committing a crime. That is the basic logic for framing a law against any crime in the first place.

If one goes by Ms. Nandy’s logic, should one conclude that since marriage is valid only when adults are involved, and since that makes child marriages void ab initio, that child marriages shouldn’t be criminalized? The Supreme Court has said that Triple Talaq won’t be valid in the eyes of the law. But how many times can a regressive practice be stopped just by making it invalid and not making it punishable.

What Ms. Nandy is saying, holds water technically. Once the Supreme Court deems the phrase “Talaq Talaq Talaq” invalid, it becomes just another three words without any consequences and hence, does fall into FoE. But she naively and criminally ignores the realities on ground. “Talaq talaq talaq” isn’t just something said in rage which can be taken back and the matter reconciled. And that Karuna Nundy ignores this fact, points either towards ignorance, or maliciously misleading people.

The lawyer goes on to say that the government is not at all concerned about Hindu women as it is not taking action on marital rape. Though it is an important issue, that must not be a reason to not punish the practice of instant Triple Talaq. Also, one has to wonder if Ms. Nandy has some specific knowledge which can prove that Marital Rape is a “hindu woman” problem and that Muslim and Christian women don’t suffer from it? It is shameless of an advocate to turn a problem like Marital Rape, into a religion specific one, just so it can used while defending triple talaq. She then goes on to talk about the controversial comments of a minister on the constitution. It is quite evident that she has almost lost her mind after the bill was passed in Lok Sabha.

As MJ Akbar said in his speech during the discussion, the impact of instant triple talaq is not just momentary but a lifelong threat used by Muslim men to subjugate and threaten women. It is sad to see self-proclaimed feminists trying to deny justice to Muslim women , just because the law is being passed by a political party they have visceral hatred for.

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