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“Shahbano”

  • Zakia Pathak
  • Rajeswari Sunder Rajan

Abstract

In April 1985, the Supreme Court of India, the highest court of the land, passed a judgment in favor of Shahbano in the case of Mohammad Ahmed Khan, appellant, versus Shahbano and others, respondents.1 The judgment created a furor unequaled, according to one journal, since “the great upheaval of 1857.”2

Keywords

Muslim Woman Civil Code Criminal Procedure Muslim Identity India Today 
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Notes

  1. 3.
    Section 125 is an “order for maintenance of wives, children, and parents.” “If any person having sufficient means neglects or refuses to maintain” his wife, children, or parents in need, a magistrate may “upon proof of such neglect, or refusal, order such person to make a monthly allowance for the maintenance … at such monthly rate not exceeding five hundred rupees in the whole”; see Ratanlal Ranchhoddas and Dhirajlal Keshavlal Thakore, The Code of Criminal Procedure (Nagpur: Wadwa, 1987), 94–112, esp. 110.Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    See, e.g., Tahir Mahmood’s comments in an interview with Kuldeep Kumar, Sunday Observer (March 9, 1986).Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    It seems to us that much historical as well as religious narrative represses the subject. For a discussion of the repression of female subjectivity in Paradise Lost, see Christine Froula, “When Eve Reads Milton: Undoing the Canonical Economy,” Critical Inquiry 10, no. 2 (December 1983): 321–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 17.
    We use here the argument put forward by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography,” in Subaltern Studies IV: Writings on South Asian History and Society, ed. Ranajit Guha (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985), 330–63. She uses the phrase “discursive displacement” to mean “functional changes in sign systems.” Our indebtedness to the work of Gayatri Spivak goes beyond the actual quotations used in this essay.Google Scholar
  5. 20.
    This theory of language was propounded by Ludwig Wittgenstein (Philosophical Investigations, trans. G.E.M. Anscombe [New York: Macmillan, 1958f]);Google Scholar
  6. and J. L. Austin (How to Do Things with Words [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962]), and is fully formulated in the speech-act theory of language.Google Scholar
  7. 26.
    See K. K. Wadhwa, Minority Safeguards in India (Delhi: Thomson, 1975), 85, 96.Google Scholar
  8. 28.
    Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (Har-mondsworth: Penguin Books, 1967), 53.Google Scholar
  9. 29.
    Jurgen Habermas, quoted in T. A. McCarthy, “A Theory of Communicative Competence,” in Critical Sociology, ed. Paul Connerton (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), 473–78.Google Scholar
  10. 31.
    Catherine Belsey, The Subject of Tragedy: Identity and Difference in Renaissance Drama (London and New York: Methuen, 1985), 191.Google Scholar
  11. 36.
    Herbert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1982), 216.Google Scholar
  12. 37.
    Jacques Derrida, “Difference,” in “Speech and Phenomena” and Other Essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs (1967), trans. David B. Allison (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1973), 159.Google Scholar
  13. 38.
    When, in 1948, an attempt was made to introduce a clause to save personal law, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, one of the framers of the Constitution, argued as follows against it: “The religious conceptions in this country are so vast that they cover every aspect of life from birth to death. There is nothing which is not religious, and, if personal law is to be saved, I am sure about it, that in social matters we shall come to a standstill. . . . After all, what are we having liberty for? We are having this liberty to reform our social system which is so full of inequalities, discriminations and other things which conflict with our fundamental rights.” Ambedkar, like other liberal secularists, postulated an Indianhood which would hold together in unity identities grounded in gender, class, language, and religion; see P. C. Chatterjee, Secular Values for Secular India (New Delhi: Lola Chatterjee, 1984), 13.Google Scholar
  14. 46.
    Stanley Aronowitz, The Crisis in Historical Materialism: Class, Politics and Culture in Marxist Theory (New York: Praeger, 1981), 131.Google Scholar
  15. 47.
    Janak Raj Jai, Shah Bano (New Delhi: Rajiv Publications, 1986), 119.Google Scholar
  16. 52.
    Leonard Green, Jonathan Culler, and Richard Klein, “Interview: Frederic Jameson,” Diacritics 12 (Fall 1982): 72–91, esp. 82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 53.
    Antonio Gramsci, Selections from Prison Writings, 1910–1920, ed. Quintin Hoare, trans. John Mathews (London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1977), 175n.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elizabeth A. Castelli 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zakia Pathak
  • Rajeswari Sunder Rajan

There are no affiliations available

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