New Delhi, Apr 14 (PTI) Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said the age-old judicial opinion that personal laws need not be in conformity with constitutional rights will hopefully be reviewed shortly.
Speaking at a FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) event after releasing Gender Parity Index specific in the formal sector, Jaitley said 2017 will be “extremely different” on the issue of personal laws.
In an indirect reference to Muslim personal law, he said “a very surprising judicial opinion” existed decades back that while all laws must confine to the constitutional rights itself, personal laws need not.
“…hopefully, it gets reviewed in near future some time,” the minister added.
His comments came days after the central government told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that the practices of ‘triple talaq’, ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy impact the social status and dignity of Muslim women and deny them fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.
The government reiterated its earlier stand that practices such as divorcing women by mere utterance of ‘talaq’ (divorce) thrice render Muslim women “unequal and vulnerable” as compared to men of their community as well as women belonging to other communities.
Jaitley said the “very surprising judicial opinion” of that time was personal laws need not confine to constitutional rights “because they are not laws for that purpose, so they were excluded.”
“This was the state of mind which dictated the public discourse, judicial discourse, but I am sure 2017 and the area or ages that we have gone through in order to reach this, are going to be extremely different,” he added.
The report he released stated that “gender inequality is a problem across all professions in India. And it is clear that we have miles to go before we rest”.
However, the first step towards finding a solution to any problem is the acknowledgment of its existence, which is what organisation will accomplish when they implement the gender parity index, it added.
Jaitley said today is a day identified with one of the great founders of Indian Constitution, Dr B R Ambedkar.
“Conceptually, we provided for equality, we also provided for some affirmative action in order to improve upon and endeavour to reach that level.
“But there were always challenges and therefore, in the 1950s, if one sees the public discourse, when the Hindu law was amended between the then President and Prime Minister, we could see there were two opinions in society as to how you can enforce the very idea of equality as far as law is concerned and law always is the first step because then to execute and implement it, it takes years and sometimes generations. And you slowly have for decades, these debates going on,” he said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.