Plea in SC by a religious fanatic woman challenges UCC on divorce

The petition opposes the earlier petition by Adv. Ashwinkumar Upadhyay on UCC

New Delhi – A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court against a ‘blatant attempt’ being made to take away the fundamental rights of Muslim women to practice their religion, all in the guise of providing a ‘uniform law’ across all faiths. Petitioner Amina Sherwani has asked the SC to hear her before deciding whether a Uniform Civil law for divorce, maintenance and alimony will leave Muslim women like her better-off.

In December last year, the SC had agreed to examine Adv. AK Upadhyay’s plea for a single law covering divorce, maintenance and alimony for all religions. Mr. Upadhyay argued that laws governing them in certain religions discriminate and marginalise women.

Attempt to interfere, claims woman

Ms. Sherwani says a Muslim woman is the recipient of the rights and entitlements provided to her. She said their personal law allows Muslim women such rights that may not be available under other marital laws. Ms. Sherwani said Mr. Upadhyay’s petition was a ‘deliberate attempt to interfere with the cultural and customary practices and usages that enjoy the protection of Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution’.

“The Muslim personal law provides a Muslim woman various options to divorce her husband. They include Talak-e-Tafweez, Khula, Talak-e-Mubarrah, Fask and the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939”.

Ms. Sherwani said, “Muslim marriage is contractual in nature and as such the parties to it are allowed to impose conditions for regulating their matrimonial relations. Such conditions can be imposed before marriage or at the time of marriage or even after”.

Mehr for the bride

Ms. Sherwani also referred to ‘Mehr’, which is ‘considered to be a symbol of respect to the wife and as such, it is meant to be substantial’. “A meagre amount is wrong under Islamic principles. Further, if Mehr dues are not paid at the time of divorce, the wife is entitled to retain possession of her husband’s property. In case of refusal by the husband to pay the Mehr, the wife is entitled to live separately and during this period she is entitled to claim maintenance from her husband”, Ms. Sherwani said.