Friday, 7 April 2017

Law relating to cow slaughter in Assam

They have started cow vigilatism in Assam also. According to a report, three people, including a minor, were arrested from Jorhat town in Assam on April 4 for carrying beef and thereby hurting the religious sentiments of some people. The first incident is by police in the name of law enforcement. But there are concerns that the private groups of vigilantes may start to go on the rampage like in the states of North India.

So, it is better to have a look at the law relating to cow slaughter in Assam.

In North East India there is no law prohibiting or regulating cow slaughter in the states of Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Tripura and Nagaland.

But not in Assam. In the state there is a state legislation called the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 that prohibits slaughter of certain types of cattle. The Act defines “cattle” as `Bulls, bullocks, cows, calves, male and female buffaloes and buffalo calves. Section 5 provides that the cattle can only be slaughtered on a certificate of ‘fit for slaughter’ given by a veterinary officer for the area if cattle is over 14 years of age or has become permanently incapacitated for work or breeding due to injury, deformity or any incurable disease and according to section 6 such cattle can be slaughtered only in places specified for this purpose. The offence under the Act may attract punishment of imprisonment up to maximum of 6 months or fine of up to Rs 1,000 or both and it is a cognisable offence.

However, section 13 empowers the state government to to impose, exempt from the operation of this Act, the slaughter of any cattle for any religious, ceremonial, medical research or any other purposes. It also states that “the operation of the Act will not be applicable to the slaughter of any cattle on the occasion of Id-uz-Zuha festival on such conditions as the State Government may specify regarding privacy”.

It is obvious that the Act does not absolutely prohibit slaughter of cow. It only regulates cattle slaughter. But the provisions are vulnerable to be misused. The problem is that they don't much care for the laws. The law nowhere prohibits carrying and eating of beef.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Muslim women voting for Yogi Adityanath should be the last nail in the coffin of triple talaq

It is claimed that many Muslim women in UP voted for Yogi Adityanath's BJP. Yes, the Yogi whose supporters, in his presence, asked Hindus to excavate graves of Muslim women and rape their dead bodies. They voted him, it is said, because Adityanath promised to protect them from the scrouge of triple talaq.

If there is even an iota of truth in this claim it should have dealt a huge blow along the spine, if they have any, of the community compelling them to seriously work on the issue of triple talaq and other laws and practices oppressive and unjust to women.

I don't see any reasons to disbelief this claim as something similar happened during the first part of 20th century. This was before passing of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. Muslim law as it was practised at that time didn't provide for ways to get rid of husbands even if it was not possible for the women to continue to live with their husbands except by committing suicide, or becoming apostate. The later was far more easier as Christian missionaries also came to their rescue. Women only need to utter some words declaring their unbelief of Islam. Muftis would declare them apostate and consequently their marriages dissolved. Women increasingly resrted to this device.

This dealt a huge blow to the Muslim leaders and intellectuals of the time. The philosopher and poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal led a campaign for reforms of relevant parts of the Muslim law forcing a conservative Deobandi Mufti like Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi to revise the laws/fatwas. In 1931, after several years of extensive consultations with muftis in India and abroad, he published a long fatwa entitled "al-Hilat al-Najiza li'l-Halilat al-'Ajiza" (A Successful Legal Device for the Helpless Wife). In the revised fatwa, Maulana Thanvi argued that apostasy did not annul the marriage contract and could not be used as a legal device. He agreed that judicial divorce might be used to provide relief to Hanafi Muslim women, invoking Maliki doctrine in support of this point. (See Muhammad Khalid Masud, "Islamic Legal Interpretation: Muftis and Their Fatwas" (Harvard University Press, 1996) Chapter Sixteen, pp. 193-203.)

This booklet provided the basis of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. The Act provides for ten grounds for Muslim women to obtain a decree of the dissolution of marriage from a court of law. A decree for dissolving marriage made avaialable for the reasons that for a term of four years the particulars about the husband are unknown, the woman has been abandoned by the husband or he failed to provide maintenance for the woman for a term of two years, the husband has married another woman contravening the provisions of Muslim Family laws Ordinance, 1961, the husband has been subject to imprisonment for a term of seven years or more etc., the nonperformance of marital obligations, impotency, insanity, leprosy, virulent venereal disease, cruelty etc. or any other legal causes can be taken as ground for getting divorce. This Act is still in force.

It is obvious that this time there is no Muslim intellectual who has the courage to follow the foot steps of Allama Iqbal and lead a campaign and force the likes of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi to revisit the laws and abolish triple talaq and polygamy.