asai resident Intekhab Alam Munshi got married in December 1998 and has three children. After 20 years of marriage, things weren’t right in their marriage and the husband initiated a divorce notice to the wife. Munshi’s wife received a notice of talaq (divorce) on September 22, 2018; in that notice, it was mentioned that two notices had already been served to her and hence, this is ‘Talaq-e-Ahsan’, which is legal. The complainant (wife) alleged that she has not received any notice before this one and hence, it was Talaq-e-Biddat. The husband had claimed that he had sent out two notices earlier, which the wife didn’t receive and hence, they didn’t violate the law. The wife, on the other hand, has claimed that the husband had manipulated the dates of the notices to suit the law and it was, indeed, triple talaq. Munshi’s 40-year-old wife claimed that her husband divorced her in violation of the ordinance. The news went viral with all twists and turns and with various narrations. The husband though contended that the notices were issued on the proper address and the third notice was also received on the same address, so the wife is deliberately avoiding the service of notices.
Finally, The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to the man booked under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Ordinance that criminalises instant talaq or talaq-e-biddat. Justice PD Naik was hearing a petition filed by Intekhab Alam Riaz Munshi seeking protection from arrest after his plea was rejected by the additional session’s judge in Palghar. An FIR was registered against Munshi on October 23 under Section 3 (talaq to be void and illegal), Section 4 (punishment for pronouncing talaq), Section 5 (subsistence allowance), Section 6 (custody of minor children), and Section 7 (offence to be cognisable compoundable) of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Ordinance 2018. The HC, however, said that it cannot decide the case at this stage and granted him anticipatory bail. This is a case of matrimonial dispute. The custodial interrogation of Munshi is not required as the progress of the investigation at this stage depends on the documental facts.
After the famous judgement on triple talaq, this is for the first time that a Muslim wife attempted to book a case against her husband for triple talaq. Intekhab Alam Munshi had sent three notices as per the customary law on three periodic months and also ensured that the same was served six times to avoid the period of iddat or purity (as the women cannot be given talaq when she has her menstrual periods). A large part of Muslim Personal Law is still unchanged and most of the legal decisions pronounced by the courts are based on the norms mentioned in Quran and Hadith. The central debate on the understanding of Muslim Personal Laws has both positive as well as negative aspects. Some has supported that the Muslim Personal Laws have given various rights to the Muslim women such as choice in marriage, inheritance, etc. Today, the issues of women rights in the Muslim Personal Law are highly debatable. Especially, Muslim women rights relating to triple talaq, inheritance, maintenance have got much attention from media. However, the Indian Constitution has guaranteed equality and freedom from discrimination based on gender or religion, but still, there are various practices which are based on heartless conservative culture.
Interestingly, the marriage is 20-years-old and upon the FIR filed by wife, the husband has to apply for anticipatory bail to seek protection against arrest and sometimes AB is allowed with conditions that may include deposit of bail amount or persons to stand as surety to ensure that in the event a person goes absconding to person’s standing as surety for him can be availed. Well! The question of whether the complaint is correct or false is decided by the trial court and not granting AB. Due to this, a lot of husbands come under pressure and settle the matter by paying exorbitant money. It is therefore high time that the lawmaking machineries can think about having a Uniform Civil Code for the family matters to avoid the filing of false cases. Another drawback of the judiciary is that laws are made by legislatures who are not trained in legal knowledge and hence, we are still following the laws enacted during the pre-independence era.
Looking at the above case, why should we not assume that the woman accepted the third notice and she filed the complaint on the basis of it? Why shouldn’t we assume that the case is manipulated in order to show that talaq was not given as per the law? The Indian society sees only one side of the narrative and is quick to judge the male partner. A woman in India only needs to file a dowry or domestic violence case, an FIR or a rape case against the husband’s family and it is the onus of the men and the family to prove it wrong. They are declared guilty in the face of society, the law, and their friends even before they have a moment to catch a breathe and prove their side of the story. In most of the cases, Money has power, undoubtedly! It is often money that leads the woman to file DV (Domestic Violence) cases against the husband and the family. Many times, a husband says that the wife must work to have equality in the relationship and both parties shall look after the children and their home. But the wife refuses. Later, when he has built the nest egg to be more comfortable with his wife and family, she deserts him saying he never paid enough attention to her and it’s time she gets the entire nest egg for her for the years she’s given to the marriage. I am not blaming every woman that files for divorce, but with this logic, all men are not wrong or guilty. Most of the time, divorce cases that are flung on the man are traumatic and there are many men and families who are so scarred that they won’t marry again or have children. Undoubtedly, there are many women who suffer mental and physical trauma with a violent or unreasonable husband who cheats on relations. The sufferers and victims are at both sides. We as matured social animals should stop judging the people and especially media needs to be more precise and factual when they present such news stories.