New Delhi: The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Friday defended the practice of triple talaq and polygamy, professing that polygamy is a social need and a blessing and not a curse for women.
The AIMPLB, in its counter affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, said the contentious issue relating to Muslim practices of polygamy, triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) and nikah halala are matters of "legislative policy" and cannot be interfered with.
The board said that practices provided by Muslim Personal Law on the issues of marriage, divorce and maintenance were based on holy scripture Al-Quran and "courts cannot supplant its own interpretations over the text of scriptures".
Saying that "polygamy is a blessing, not a curse for women", the AIMPLB said that if the option of polygamy was not available to a husband, then he may divorce his existing wife or indulge in illicit affairs.
"An unlawful mistress is more harmful for social fabric than a lawful second wife," the AIMPLB said in its repose to suo motu petition on the rights of Muslim women concerning marriage, divorce and maintenance and whether the current practices under Muslim Personal Law was violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
Defending the Shariah granting right to divorce to the husband, the AIMPLB said that "men have greater power of decision making. They are more likely to control emotions and not to take a hasty decision. Men are expected to behave thus on the following grounds".
In a shocking argument, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said that if the practice of triple talaq is stopped, a man can go on to murder or burn his wife.
“If there develops serious discord between the couple, and the husband does not at all want to live with her, legal compulsions of time-consuming separation proceedings and expenses may deter him from taking the legal course. In such instances, he may resort to illegal, criminal ways of murdering or burning her alive.”
Terming a "common misperception" spread by communal outfits that the incidence of polygamy is higher among Muslims, the AIMPLB, referred to several surveys since 1931, to drive stress that Muslims have the lowest rate of polygamy in India.
It, however, defended polygamy saying that the institution is not considered immoral in Sharia Law, which proceeds on the principle that the "institution of monogamy is most desirable but cannot be made mandatory".
"In the Indian context it should be remembered that polygamy was widely prevalent amongst many non-Muslim communities as per their respective personal laws. However with passage of time some of those communities were subject to compulsory rule of monogamy," AIMPLB said in its reply.