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Kerala launches free legal aid in triple talaq cases

Thursday, Apr 6, 2017,15:18 IST By anju A A A

Thiruvananthapuram | Muslim women in Kerala divorced under triple talaq practice would now get free legal aid under an initiative launched by the state minorities commission amid a debate over the issue across the country.

The initiative was formally launched yesterday and 21 complaints were received from women who were divorced and left to fend for themselves, commission sources said today.

The commission, headed by retired judge P K Haneefa, has formed panels comprising four women advocates each in all 14 districts of the state to give the women appropriate advice and legal assistance.

The divorced women can approach the members of the panel in their respective districts for legal advice and assistance free of cost to fight their cases, Haneefa said.

The commission, constituted for the comprehensive educational advancement, welfare, protection and empowerment of minorities in the state, has published phone numbers (0471-2315122, 2318122) for women to approach the panelists.

“After hearing the plaint, the panel advocates will give advice on whether to move a suit before court or to approach police or other authorities concerned for getting redressal of their complaints,” Haneefa told PTI.

Women, living in any part of the state, can contact the panelists through the phone numbers and seek help in this regard, he said.

“Many women from various parts of the state have already come up with complaints of triple talaq,” he said.

Commission sources said that most of the complainants who have approached the panel belong to the 25-49 age group.

A 63-year-old retired school headmistress, who has been fighting to get compensation from her former husband for the past seven years, is one among those who has approached the commission for justice.

Another woman from Malappuram, who was divorced under the triple talaq practice 22 years ago, wanted some compensation to carry forward her life as she is living at the mercy of her relatives and has no children.

A 40 year-old woman from Erumeli in Kottayam district has been fighting for justice for the past 10 years, sources added.

The practice of triple talaq has been challenged before the Supreme Court which last month decided that a Constitution Bench would hear the petitions from May 11.

The apex court had said the Muslim practices of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy are issues that are “very important” and involve “sentiments”.

The Kerala High Court last year had come out against triple talaq, saying that equality before law has been denied to Muslim women in the country due to the practice.

Disposing of three cases involving divorced Muslim women, including change of name of spouse in the passport of a person who had ended his marriage by triple talaq, the court had stressed the need for a codified law with regard to divorce.