Sachar Report gathers dust, Abolishing Personal Laws cant change dark realities
By Humra Quraishi, The Milli Gazette Online
Published Online: Dec 23, 2016
Ten long years have passed by and though Justice Sachar and his team had put together a detailed and comprehensive report on the condition of the largest minority community of India, yet the establishment ducked or backtracked or played politics at the crucial implementation level. Statistics show that today the condition of the Muslim has touched the lowest rung.
Perhaps, the establishment wasn’t ever serious in trying to bring about a change in the surviving patterns of this minority community. Why I’m saying so is because several years before the Sachar Committee was setup there was the Gopal Singh Commission Report and then more recently, in 2014, the Kundu Commission Report, with focus on the conditions faced by the Muslims of this land. Yet, look at the dark realities around…getting darker by the day.
Together with these Reports, well-known academics have been writing extensively on the rather systematic decline of the Muslim community in terms of the socio – economic conditions and also the setback they face each time a riot is made to happen. In fact,Asghar Ali Engineer’s detailed findings on the Communal Riots in the country after the Partition, VN Rai’s findings vis-à-vis the communal riots, and reports on the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 are some of those crucial pointers to the biased role played by the State machinery each time a riot is made to occur! Oh, yes, riots are ‘made to occur’ by those in power, because of the simple fact that no riots can take off without the prior knowledge of the police force together with Agencies.
I wonder: why are the National and State level Minority Commissions quiet and subdued and do not question and query the politically -appointed men manning Minority Affairs ministry? Why don’t they rip off the facades set up by the establishment in the name of the minorities of the country?
Today its become almost fashionable to blast off Islam and with that the Muslim community. Together with that heap all sorts of notions on them. The latest, of course, is that they are not changing with the times and are not giving in to the muchhyped Common Civil Code. As though it will be some magic potion to cure away all marital discords and the connected aftermath.
I have been asked a hundred times why the Muslims are not in favour of the Common Civil Code. And each time I have written extensively on the crucial ‘whys’ to this.
Foremost, yes, it’s a fact that a great majority of the Indian Muslims are not in favour of the government trying to bring about changes in their Personal Laws through direct or indirect ways. They are more than wary of the ‘games’ played of the establishment. There are a whole bunch of backgrounders to this: The Babri Masjid destruction and Gujarat pogrom were two major jolts for the Indian Muslim. Today the Indian Muslim is more than wary of the Right -Wing government at the Centre, and is well aware of the RSS agenda vis-à-vis largest minority community of India. He or she has read or at least knows the contents of the RSS ‘literature’ and with that realizes that Hindutva agenda is to attack and destroy if not to dilute the very identity of the Musalamans of this land.
Today Muslims ask the obvious: Why has the government of the day not bothered to implement the Gopal Singh, Sachar and Kundu Committee recommendations? Why this sudden concern for the Muslim community, which has been lagging behind and facing discriminations on all spheres : social, economic, educational, even at the jailed levels; what, with jailed Muslim inmates baring the dark realities of those hell -holes?
And on the Common Civil Code, Muslim women ask: “if this BJP government is so concerned about our betterment then they should tell the police not to kill us. The situation is so dangerous that any innocent Muslim man can be killed on mere suspicion of beef …this their latest strategy to ruin us. Making us widows!”
Today there is a sense of insecurity amongst the Muslims. Writ large are the double standards and biases in the very governance and also the dictates of the political mafia and of the ‘saffronized’ cops.
Muslims also stress that they there are comfortable with their Personal Laws. “Just because some ‘mischief maker’ misuses or twists those provisions does not mean that there ought to be changes. Non- issues are played up by the BJP-RSS in the garb of betterment of the community. Tomorrow these goons will say change your names or surnames!”
In fact, in the 1990s, when I had interviewed the late Danial Latifi - the well- known lawyer who’d handled the controversial Shah Bano case - he had made it very clear that Shah Bano had got her due maintenance on the basis and “strength of Quran’s provisions.” As he’d detailed, “First of all, despite the contrary belief, marriage is a very serious business in Islam. And now coming to the chapter on talaq. It is this chapter that lays down all the details including the procedure for talaq and the importance given to the arbitration aspect and of course the maintenance aspect. In fact, the triple talaq is unquranic …one particular line from the Quran - wa lil mutallaqati mata’un bil-maroof, haqqan ‘alal muttaqqin (unto the divorced woman, a provision that is reasonable is obligatory, an obligation for the righteous ). And this line is enough to provide her status and a decent maintenance. So Shah Bano got her due maintenance on the strength of Qur’an’s provisions. In fact, whilst fighting for the Shah Bano case I quoted this very line and the minute I showed this line to the Chief Justice he said that line was enough to get her due, her maintenance.” In fact, Latifi was absolutely against the Common Civil Code and had blamed the BJP for making it into some sort of a political issue. To quote him, “I repeat that neither then and nor now will I ever favour a common civil code. It is not really needed. Also because it has become a political issue and the BJP and its allies are looking for an issue and want to rake it up. I personally feel that the Muslim do not need it.” On polygamy, he was equally stark, “polygamy has been made into an issue by political parties …it is certainly low, in fact, very low amongst the Muslims. I wonder why are not the real issues pertaining to Muslims highlighted! The reality is that Islam has actually provided enough guidelines and precautions and codes of conduct. It is rather tragic that most sit unaware.”
(21 December, 2016)