The bill was passed in May 1986 and was called the Muslim Women (Protection of Rightsin Divorce) Act1.In addition to the religious groups, community organizations, and politicalparties, various organizations promote certain issues of importance to the Muslimcommunity. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) is the mostpowerful of these. It is an apolitical organization that engages politicalleaders and parties in legal issues of importance to the Muslim community.Established in 1972, the AIMPLB has been a principal proponent for retainingshari’a as personal law for Muslims in India.17 Muslim personal law,particularly as it pertains to family law, has been a central issue of debatein India. Whereas India has a secular civil code for resolving legal disputesfor the country as a whole, the Muslim community has historically been able touse shari’a in personal and family matters.
Both Muslim political parties andMuslim pressure groups such as the AIMPLB lobby for the preservation of aseparate Muslim personal law based on shari’a for use by Muslims in India. Inrecent decades, this situation has created inconsistencies and disputes withinthe Muslim community as well as between Muslims and Hindus. Muslim Indian womenoften appeal to the government to be treated under the civil code rather thanunder Muslim personal family law. In 1986, a highly publicized divorce case,the Shah Bano case, created a furor across India. After India’s supreme courtawarded Shah Bano, the divorced wife, continued maintenance payments by herformer husband, the AIMPLB and other fundamentalist groups in the Muslimcommunity pressured the government to reverse the ruling. The AIMPLB arguedthat the supreme court had no right to attempt to interpret the Quran.
RajivGandhi’s government finally succumbed to the pressure and passed the MuslimWomen (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act of 1986, which restored the shari’aruling and ultimately rescinded Shah Bano’s right to maintenance payments.18 Onthe issue of triple talaq (a man’s declaring three times consecutively that hewishes to divorce his wife), there has been debate within the Islamiccommunity, with the AIMPLB supporting fundamentalist interpretations of law.The Bombay High Court ruled that the wife must be present for a man to divorceher, rather than his being able to complete a divorce ____________ 16 Hasan(2002), p. 382. 17 Zafarul-Islam Khan, “Indian Muslim Apex Body Gets NewChief,” The Milli Gazette, June 23, 2002. 18 Hasan (1997), p. 263.
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jstor.org/terms Islam in India 305 by saying talaq “I divorceyou”—three times in her absence. The stance of the AIMPLB was that a wife doesnot need to be present for talaq, or divorce, to occur2. 1ZAKIA PATHAK AND RAJESWARI SUNDER RAJAN, Art “SHAHBANO”, Published byThe University of Chicago Press, Spring.
1989, p.559.2Rollie Lal, “Islam in India” BookTitle: the book title. The Muslim WorldAfter 9/11 Chapter.
6, Published by: RAND Corporation. (2004), p.304