The news from Delhi is that, Instant triple talaq has been barred for six months by the Supreme Court until parliament brings a law to ban it entirely.
A five-judge bench of India’s Supreme Court heard petitions by women’s groups seeking to ban this practice of verbal divorce. From May 12 to May 18, five judges from five different communities heard the triple talaq case in the Supreme Court. They are Chief Justice JS Khehar (Sikh), Justices Kurian Joseph (Christian), RF Nariman (Parsi), UU Lalit (Hindu) and Abdul Nazeer (Muslim).
The verdict was to be announced today and 3 judges on the 5 judge Constitution bench decided against triple talaq while two ruled in favour. Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman & U U Lalit said triple talaq needs to go while CJI JS Khehar & Justice Abdul Nazeer backed triple talaq.
The country was looking forward to this day calling it a big day for women rights in India and also hailed this as an opportunity for the court to undo this constitutional nonsense.
“We hope the legislature will consider and take into account Muslim Personal Law while making legislation. All parties must keep their politics away and decide this.”
– Supreme Court
The practice is already banned in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
How did it all begin?
There are six petitioners in the case. The main plea in the case was filed by Shayara Bano, a 36-year-old whose husband divorced her by pronouncing triple talaq after 15 years of marriage. Bano, who is battling multiple ailments following several abortions, received a talaqnama (divorce) by post while she was staying with her parents in Kashipur, Uttarakhand.
Shayara Bano approached the Supreme Court in 2016, challenging the validity of the divorce practices against women followed by Muslims. In her petition, Shayara asked the apex Court to declare talaq-e-bidat , polygamy and nikah halala illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the rights guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25.
Other petitioners: Ishrat Jahan, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), Gulshan Parween, Aafreen Rehman, and Atiya Sabri.
While, several Muslim groups argued that they are governed by the personal law that came into force in 1937 and hence the Supreme Court should not interfere in such matters.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), an influential group, defends triple talaq as a matter of faith and it had requested the court to let Muslims find a solution to the issue.
It is to be noted that the Supreme Court have invalidated this 1,400-year-old practice of instant Triple Talaq but the practice of revocable divorce still remains. It remains to be seen how this particular debate unfolds in future.
What is instant triple talaq?
Triple talaq is the practice under which a Muslim man can divorce his wife by simply uttering “talaq” three times. It is prevalent among India’s Muslim community majority of who follow the Hanafi Islamic school of law. It should be noted that this method of separation is actually Haraam (forbidden) in Islam, however, if pronounced it is still effective. It totally and irrevocably terminates the marriage with immediate effect.
The activists have highlighted the misuse of instant divorce by men as a reason to ban it. Cases of husbands divorcing their wives through text messages and over phones have come to light.
What is revocable divorce?
This is when Talaq is given by the husband and he either uses or says the word ‘Talaq’ once or twice. Please note that the word of Talaq need only be uttered/ written by the husband for it to be effective. It is revocable because if after pronouncement the couples wish to reconcile, they can do so as long as reconciliation occurs before the expiration of what is known as the Iddah period or waiting/cooling-off period. The Iddah period is 3 menstrual cycles and if reconciliation has not occurred before then, the Talaq is made irrevocable.
While Modi has appealed to the Muslim community to do away with triple talaq and urged them to not politicise the matter, other leaders from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been giving controversial and offending statements on the same.
“Talaq does not extinguish her economic rights, [the ban] is not a magic wand that will solve all her problems. We have created an image that Muslim women have no rights because husbands can pronounce triple talaq,”
– Flavia Agnes, a prominent women’s rights lawyer
Others have also blamed the government for making the whole debate a political spectacle, catering to the ruling government’s anti-Muslim agenda.
Questions still to be answered:
- It looks like the Court may have settled an age-old debate, but has it really?
- On what grounds possibly the two judges are of an opinion that ‘Triple Talaq’ should stay?
- Why didn’t we have a single woman representative in the five-judge bench put together to hear a case that directly affects the women rights in the country?
India waits for the answers.