Noninterference and Muslim Personal Law: <i>Shah Bano</i> and the Muslim Women Bill, 1984–86

Rina Verma Williams

in Postcolonial Politics and Personal Laws

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780195680140
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081721 | DOI:
Noninterference and Muslim Personal Law: Shah Bano and the Muslim Women Bill, 1984–86

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This chapter addresses the 1980s era, when Muslim personal law returned to the Indian political agenda after a long hiatus. After winning the case, Shah Bano Begum actually renounced the decision under the influence of local Muslim clerics and never accepted the maintenance allowance. Rajiv Gandhi's government vacillated over whether the Shah Bano decision established interference, first denying that it did and then agreeing that it did. It also determined that conservatives represented ‘real’ Muslim opinion about the Shah Bano decision without systematically trying to determine popular opinion among Muslims at large. Gandhi feared the erosion of minority community support for the Congress Party; therefore, his government sanctioned the conservative Muslim position. A Bharatiya Janata Party government represented the possibility of a fundamental break with the policies and approaches of the past.

Keywords: Muslim personal law; Shah Bano Begum; Rajiv Gandhi; Congress Party; Muslim clerics; interference; Bharatiya Janata Party

Chapter.  12525 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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