Background: Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Muslim women entitlement to alimony

Navaid Hamid

Supreme Court’s recent ruling (10 July 2024) that Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act1986 does not bar Muslim women from seeking maintenance under CrPc once again had proved that All India Muslim Personal Law Board had done disservice by accepting Government draft on Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 by not involving community leader Syed Shahabuddin mathoom in the negotiating team and ignoring his red flag to the proposed government’s draft.
The then Board’s leadership was swayd by a crony who use to be part of a loose gang of trollers including paid urdu journalists whose full time engagement was to demean Syed Shahabuddin’s leadership as they had always felt threatened by Syed sahab’s political vision and weightage.
In the initial meeting of Board’s delegation of Maulana Ali mian Nadvi and Maulana Minnatullah Rehmani with Rajiv Gandhi in which Law minister Ashok Sen was present, the PM sugggested to have another meeting on next day to finalise the things. Before departing, Maulana Minnatullah Remani proposed to have one more representative of the board in the next day’s meeting and that he might be Adv Yusuff Hatim Muchhala. Rajiv catagorically pointed out that any name may be discussed with the man who had facilitated the appointment and was also accompanying them.
On their return, some members of the board convinced Maulana Ali Mian Nadvi to take late Syed Shahabuddin along with them in the next day’s parleys with the Prime Minister

Maulana Ali Mian marhoom graciously accepted their arguments and decided to include Syed Shahabuddin in the delegation but the crony who claims to be felicitator of the meeting with Rajiv Gandhi succeded in conviencing Maulana Ali Mian that it would have negative impact on the negotiations and subsequently Syed sahab was dropped.

Ironically, the recent judgment has cemented the apex court’s initial jugemental philosophy in Shah Bano case that the (divorced) muslim women were entitled to maintenance under 125 CrPc.
Former union minister Arif Mohammad Khan, (who had resigned from the Rajiv government because of his disagreement with the grovenment’s new proposed initiative to nullify SC’s Shah Bano judgement and after he delivered speech, on government’s directio, in favor of the SC’s Shah Bano judgement which subsequently had further ignited huge pan India protests by the muslims against the Rajiv government apart from the supreme court’s judgement), had astonishingly enquired about the acceptance of the draft by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and was surprised to know about Board’s nod to the draft when the then law minister Ashok Sen visited Arif’s home, located at the Sunheri Bagh Road in New Delhi, on the direction of PM Rajiv Gandhi to brief him about developing strategies and to show the draft for his comments. To get more clarity, Arif enquired from Sen regarding Shahabuddin’s acceptance to the draft. Arif was stunned when Ashok Sen informed him in the subsequent conversations that Shahabuddin was kept in the dark about the negotiations and the draft and that he was not involved as part of the strategy. It is said that the then law minister and Arif Mohammad Khan’s meeting concluded with a request from Ashok Sen that the details of the meeting and the government strategy would not be divulged to anybody.

When Syed Shahabuddin saw the final draft as agreed between the Board and the government, Syed sahab got saddened and tried to argue that the bill is poorly drafted and is against the traditional stand of the muslims on the issue of mantainance for the period beyond iddat to the divorced women.
But it was too late, and the draft of the Bill subsequently was presented in parliament as agreed with the Board’s leadership.

Syed Shahabuddin moved an amendment in the bill and passionately aurgued for acceptance when his name was called around 2 a.m. after midnight, which was rejected by the voice vote.
Within a few days of the passage of the “Muslim Women Protection Act 1986” renowned lawyer Flavia Agnes wrote an article against the passed act and highlighted the future dangerous scenerio, the Act will create in courts. But it took around 30 years to realize the folly the Board had made and trikcked into when in the year 2016, Board spokesman Qasim Rasool Ilyas (who was himself a troller of Syed Shahabuddin in his young age and was then associated with Student Islamic Movement of India – SIMI) wrote an article for the urdu daily Rashtriya Sahara & carried by it in all of its additions across the country where Syed Qasim Rasool Ilyas complained that 30 years back the Muslims and the Board were ditched and cheated by the then Government in the Shah Bano case and the Muslim Women Protection Act 1986.
Incidentally, just after around four months of the new law in 1986, the first judgement in accordance to the Act was delivered, in which the court gave a judgement contrary to the Islamic tenents as augued by Muslim leadership, but the leadership of Board chooses to ignore the consequal judgment by the court as an eupheria was created that the Muslim leadership has forced government to enact a law on their ‘dictates’ which subsequently had created an atmosphere of hate not only against the Congress party but also against the Muslim community.

Legislation on any crucial issue on the rights of the citizens requires political vision, too, which the Board members had lacked. Its not a question about sincerity of the AIMPLB leadership but about their political wisdom and casual approach at the stage of the negotiations before crucial legislation.
Ironically, there had always been a caucus in the so-called Muslim leadership who got most of the support from the karobari urdu journalists and dwarf staured self centred flaterers who had a wishful thinking to be counted in the first row of Muslim leadersip for fulfilling their own political ambitions and who spread lies and demonise sincere Muslim leadership. It is an ongoing and continuous process, and a new caucus emerges with the passage of time.
Sadly, a part of muslim leadership, too, patronise these trolls for its survival and relevance apart from using them for spreading all kinds of allegations and hatching conspiracies against sincere Muslim leaders.
Disclaimer: This article is the author’s individual scholastic contribution and does not necessarily reflect the organization’s viewpoint.