NRK's WhatsApp divorce sparks debate

NRKs WhatsApp divorce sparks debate

Women's Commission member Dr Prameela Devi said that the man had lived only 10 days with his wife after the marriage.

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By T.K. Devasia

Published: Thu 8 Oct 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 9 Oct 2015, 11:28 AM

Trivandrum: A 27-year-old Non-resident Keralite (NRK) divorced his wife over WhatsApp, kicking off a debate in the southern Indian state of Kerala over the validity of talaqs delivered through social networking sites and message sharing apps.
The Kerala State Women's Commission has sought the opinion of Muslim scholars and clerics over the issue in the light of a steady rise in cases of talaqs pronounced through social media platforms and chatting apps like Skype, WhatsApp and email services.
The talaq message sent by the NRK, a native of Vaikkom in Kottayam district, to his 21-year-old wife living at Aleppey in the state through WhatsApp just four weeks after their marriage created a sense of outrage in the state.
Women's Commission member Dr Prameela Devi said that the man had lived only 10 days with his wife after the marriage.
The commission member told Khaleej Times that the woman, who was pursuing a dental course before her marriage, was totally shattered by the incident. One of her pleas to the commission is an opportunity to talk to her husband, who had left for abroad 10 days after the marriage.
The commission has asked the Non-resident Keralites Affairs (Norka) department to trace the youth, who has not responded to the summons issued by the Commission, to trace him. Prameela Devi has also asked the Vaikkom police to pursue the case.
She said that the commission was trying to ensure the return of Rs1 million and 80 sovereigns of gold the woman's mother had given to the bridegroom as dowry at the time of the marriage besides a proper alimony to the divorced woman.
Prameela said that the commission would look into the validity of the WhatsApp talaq after getting the opinion of the scholars. The scholars are, however, divided over the validity of talaqs delivered through the new media.
A member of the Samastha Kerala Jam-Iyyathul Ulama claimed there was no bar in considering the talaq delivered through the WhatsApp if it was in accordance with the Sharia. He said that the divorce could be granted after discussions within the family if the husband stuck to his decision.
However, another member of the same organisation questioned the validity of the WhatsApp talaq, saying that it could not be considered as a legal document. Talaq should be done face-to-face or else relevant documents should be signed by witnesses.
The Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen said that the talaq delivered through WhatsApp could not be considered valid as the mandatory steps for divorce cannot be followed in the message sharing app. Talaq can be given only under unavoidable circumstances and conditions, said a leader of KNM.

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