'Reforms Within Personal Laws'
In order to be relevant to women's lives, there was an urgent need for ‘Reforms Within Personal laws’ the Majlis Legal Centre played an important role in reforming the Christian Personal Law as well as safeguarding the rights of Muslim women.
Rights of Muslim Women
Through public campaigns and legal initiatives, Majlis has advocated for securing the Rights of Divorced Muslim Women to a fair and reasonable settlement under the Muslim Women (Protection of Right on Divorce) Act of 1986. To spread awareness regarding this legal provision, we brought out a publication in 2001 titled, Judgement Call which is a compilation of pro-women rulings of various High Courts under this Act. This position subsequently received a boost after the Supreme Court ruling in Daniel Latifi v Union of India [2001 Cri.LJ 4660] which upheld the right of a Muslim woman to a fair and reasonable settlement. We also initiated a process of evolving a model nikahnama, which was released at a public meeting in Sept 2004.
Reforming the Christian Personal Law
In 1996, Majlis initiated proceedings in the Bombay High Court to Challenge the Archaic Divorce Laws of Christians. As per the law then, a Christian women had to prove adultery along with cruelty or desertion in order to obtain a divorce. A Full Bench stuck down these arbitrary provisions of the Indian Divorce Act as ultra vires of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. Thereafter to bring about a statutory amendment, Majlis negotiated with Christian congregations, religious leaders, Christian Members of Parliament and the Law Minister. As a consequence of our sustained campaign, a new amendment bill was enacted. Apart from making cruelty, adultery and desertion independent grounds of divorce, the amendment also granted the Christians the remedy of divorce through mutual consent.