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Last Updated: Monday, 2 May, 2005, 07:05 GMT 08:05 UK
India Muslim divorce code set out
Indian Muslim women
Muslims in India have the right to have some separate rules
Muslim men are being urged against instant divorce of their wives, in a new marriage code from an authoritative body of Muslim clerics in India.

But the code stops short of banning the controversial "triple talaq" pronouncement which allows a man to divorce his wife with immediate effect.

Instead, it recommends that Muslims approach a religious body if they wish to separate.

Muslim women activists have been pushing for a ban on triple talaq.

Under the new guidelines, if a couple feels the need to separate "a man and wife should seek Darul Kaza, a forum of arbitration according to Islamic laws".

"There is an attempt to instil the fact that Sharia [Islamic law] is supreme and all Muslim marriages will be governed by it," said Abdul Rahim Qureishi, spokesman of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

The government should intervene and enact a new law that would be binding for all
Nusrat Bano Ruhi
Muslim women's activist

"In keeping with this philosophy, the AIMPLB has laid down that all divorce and marital discords will have to be referred to the [Muslim clergy] and not the civil courts," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

This would help women get maintenance and allowances for children in the event of divorce, he said.


But Muslim women's rights activists, who have been fighting for a change in the law for years, say they are disappointed with the outcome.

"The code is silent on the minimum marriage age for Muslim women," activist Nusrat Bano Ruhi told the Associated Press news agency.

"The government should intervene and enact a new law that would be binding for all."

Under the Indian constitution, Muslims have the right to separate laws in matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which announced the new marriage code late on Sunday, sets out those laws.

Hindu nationalist leaders have criticised the provision for separate laws for Muslims and have been pushing for a uniform civil code for all Indians.

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