Muslim women may finally get their due share in family inheritance. The long standing demand of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board for a suitable amendment in the UP Zamindari Abolition and Land Reform Act 1950 to bring it at par with the Shariat is likely to get an official nod soon. After AIMPLB reasserted its stance last month, the state government is considering the option to push through the politically correct agenda in the assembly session which begins on May 28.
In a formal request forwarded to chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on April 2, Board general secretary Maulana Syed Nizamuddin demanded the right of inheritance to Muslim women, including widows, divorcees and married daughters. The Board drew attention to the fact that in UP this privilege vests only with the unmarried daughters while the rest of the categories have been arbitrarily left out. The chief minister responded favourably. On April 19, he wrote back to the AIMPLB president Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadvi and signaled his assent to the need for a speedy amendment in the law. The issue, said senior AIMPLB member Zafaryab Jilani, figured prominently in the Board's annual meeting at Mumbai from April 20-22. States like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar do not follow such discriminatory practice, there is no logic why should UP women be deprived of their share, he said.
Jilani recalled the half-hearted measures of former chief minister Mayawati in this regard. Maya government, he said, brought an amendment in the sections 171(2) and 174 of the Act in September 2005. But, the right to inherit the agricultural asset was granted only to the unmarried daughters. This, Jilani said, was not what was intended under the personal law which acknowledges property rights of married unmarried, widowed or divorced women. This restrictive approach, he said, had drawn ire of the Board in its annual meeting at Bhatkal and the members called for rescheduling the list of beneficiaries to match the Shariat.
Meanwhile, sources claimed that the government is no mood to delay the issue. With eys on the parliamentary elections, the "goodwill gesture" could yield to major political advantage to the Samajwadi Party. "Hopes are already up," said Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangimahali, Imam of Aishbagh Idgah, "after the positive communication of the chief minister." The amendment, he said, would surely lead to a revolutionary change in the economic status of women and raise their status in society in general.