Maharashtra’s proposed bill on rights of divorced women withheld after opposition

A draft bill “Matrimonial Property Rights of Women upon Marriage Bill 2012” prepared by Maharashtra state’s Department of Women and Children and Department of Law was discussed in detail in the cabinet meeting. It was strongly opposed by Muhammad Arif Naseem Khan, minister for minorities affairs, on the ground that if passed this bill will interfere in Shariah (Islamic Laws). Explaining the provisions of this bill, he said that under this bill all divorced women in the state irrespective of their religion will have the right to claim and get 50 percent share in the property of the husband. He said that in addition to a share in husband’s property, a divorced woman will be entitled to get many more facilities, rights and privileges such as her share in husband’s pension, P.F. etc. all of which are against and in violation of Islamic Shariat and hence this bill should not be introduced.

Nasim Khan further said that the central government had enacted Muslim Women’s Property Rights on Divorce in 1986 and in addition to this, different laws were enacted in 1937 and 1939 which do not interfere in Shariat. Hence, in view of these laws and Acts, introducing this bill is not proper as far as Muslims are concerned. He also referred to the Supreme Court’s verdict of 1983 in the Shah Bano case which was against the spirit of Islamic Shariat and in view of which there was a strong opposition by Muslims to the Supreme Court’s verdict. As a result, the 1986 law was passed under late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. He further said that Muslims of the whole country including those of Maharashtra have been solving or getting their problems solved regarding marriage, divorce, land, property and other family matters in the light of Shariat. Moreover, the provisions in the proposed bill are against the rights given to them under the Constitution. Naseem Khan is understood to have also written a letter to chief minister Prithvi Raj Chauhan expressing his opposition to the proposed bill alongwith the reasons and facts. It is reported that chief minister, after receiving Naseem Khan’s letter, directed the concerned departments to hold back this bill till a green signal is given by the department of minorities welfare.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2012 on page no. 4

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