A female member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has claimed that two decades ago she had suggested a provision in the nikahnama (marriage contract) giving women a right to pronounce talaq, but the proposal was shot down by her co-panelists.Mumbai-based Uzma Naheed, an AIMPLB member for years, has revealed the Board’s past stonewalling of a crucial reform, days after it submitted to the Supreme Court that it was ready to include such a clause in the nikahnama for a talaq-e-tafweez or `delegated divorce’ to give women the right to pronounce talaq in all forms.

Naheed, granddaughter of AIMPLB’s founding president Maulana Qari Tayyeb, said the Board snubbed her in 2005 when the proposal came up for a discussion. Now faced with legal scrutiny of its position, the AIMPLB appears to be reversing its position. In its submissions to the SC this week, the Board said: “Women can also negotiate in the nikahnama and include provisions therein consistent with Islamic law to contractually stipulate that her husband does not resort to triple talaq, she has the right to pronounce triple talaq in all forms, and ask for a ve ry high meher (alimony) in case of talaq and impose such other conditions as are available to her to protect her dignity.“

Naheed said she had said “almost the same thing“ in the nikahnama draft that she presented to the Board in 1994 along with other provisions, but these did not find place in the model nikahnama the Board eventually released in 2005.Director of the Mumbai-based Iqra Education Foundation, Naheed’s great, great grandfather Maulana Qasim Nanautvi was among the founders of the famous seminary Darul Uloom Deoband.

She said it was after months She said it was after months of research and consultations with scholars that she prepared a draft, which included progressive provisions like giving women the right to pronounce talaq and the Quranic method of talaq, which invalidates triple talaq or instant divorce.While the Board accepted many other provisions from the nikahnama Naheed presented, it did not include the three crucial reform measures on talaq.

Interestingly , the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, an umbrella body of 14 Muslim organisations, too rapped the Board in its October 4, 2016 letter to the Board chief for failing to include “delegated divorce“ in its nikahnama, though it was mentioned in its affidavit submitted to SC in September 2016.