Gender justice

In a secular republic, constitutional law must always override religious law—as the Allahabad high court’s judgement on triple talaq has shown


Photo: Anindito Mukherjee/EPA
Photo: Anindito Mukherjee/EPA

The Allahabad high court has done well to state in no uncertain terms that the “personal laws... cannot claim supremacy over the rights granted to the individuals by the Constitution”. As this paper has said before, in a secular republic, constitutional law must always override religious law.

This is the crux of the argument in support of a uniform civil code but, equally importantly, it is inextricably linked to the issue of gender justice. Let us not forget that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board has officially defended triple talaq on the ground that if the option of a quick divorce is taken away from Muslim men, they may resort to “illegal, criminal ways” of ending the marriage such as “murdering or burning her (the wife) alive”.

Generally, religious laws tend to limit the rights of women, and triple talaq is just one example of how regressive that can be. One may debate if the practice stands on an accurate interpretation of Islam but there is no denying it enjoys social sanction—which only makes the case for legal protections stronger.

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