Instant Triple Talaq declared unconstitutional by majority SC judgment 

A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court banned instant Triple Talaq on Tuesday after citing that most Islamic countries including Pakistan do not allow it

Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Ajay Aggarwal/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

NH Web Desk

A five-member Supreme Court bench, with all five judges belonging to five different faiths on Tuesday declared the practice of Triple Talaq—a procedure adopted by Muslim men to divorce their wives pronouncing ‘talaq’ three times as unconstitutional by a 3:2 majority.

The dissenting judges including the Chief Justice of India J S Khehar were in favour of banning the practice for six months and allow Parliament to legislate suitable laws after due deliberation.

The SC bench comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and S Abdul Nazeer, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar had reserved its verdict on batch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of triple talaq on May 18 after a six-day marathon hearing during summer vacations. The panel of five judges belonged to different major faiths including Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.

The bench Justices Kurian Joseph, UU Lalit and RF Nariman delivered the majority judgment. Chief Justice Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer dissented.

It had earlier observed that the practice of ‘triple talaq’ was the “worst” and “not a desirable” form of dissolution of marriage among Muslims.

Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), a non-governmental body which oversees the application of Muslim personal law, had earlier told the apex court that triple talaq is a matter that comes under the Muslim Personal Law Board and therefore, in his opinion, the top court should not interfere with it.

Shayara Bano, the 35-year old petitioner had challenged the practice. Subsequently, petitions of four other Muslim women — Aafreen Rehman, Gulshan Parveen, Ishrat Jahan and Atiya Sabri — were tagged with Bano's plea.

Here’s a timeline of the events:

  • 17 May, 2017: SC asks the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) whether a woman can be given an option of saying ‘no’ to triple talaq at the time of execution of nikahnama (Islamic marriage contract). The bench also said if all Qazis can be asked to include this condition at the time of marriage.
  • 16 May, 2017: Claiming that the oral, instant divorce practice is a 1,400-year-old practice, AIMPLB said that constitutional morality and equity cannot arise when a matter of faith is concerned.
  • 15 May, 2017: Pleading that the court must examine other aspects of Muslim personal law including nikah halala and polygamy, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court that the Centre will bring in a new law to regulate and marriage divorce among Muslims if the practice is declared unconstitutional.
  • 12 May, 2017: SC says the Islamic instant divorce practice was the “worst” and “not desirable” form of dissolution of marriages among Muslims.
  • 11 May, 2017: SC says it would determine if the practice is in line with the constitution and fundamental to Islam. “We will only look at triple talaq and whether it is constitutional and not go into issues such as polygamy,” the constitution bench said.
  • Citing women equality and gender justice, the BJP-led NDA government on May 11, told the Supreme Court that it opposes the practice as it is derogatory and discriminatory for women.
  • 30 March, 2017: SC says these issues are “very important” and involve “sentiments” and says a constitution bench would start hearing from May 11.
  • 3 May, 2017: SC allows Salman Khurshid as amicus curiae in hearing of pleas challenging constitutional validity of triple talaq,nikah halala’ and polygamy.
  • 29 April, 2017: The opposition accused PM Modi of politicising the issue for electoral mileage while a BJP minister Swami Prasad Maurya alleged that Muslim men use it to change wives and satisfy ‘lust’.
  • 21 April, 2017: The Delhi High Court dismissed a plea seeking to stop the practice of triple talaq on Hindu women married to Muslim men.
  • 18 April, 2017: Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said practice of triple talaq should not be allowed as women have as much right as men and cannot be treated on a lower pedestal.
  • 17 April, 2017: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath linked the Muslim practice of divorce to the disrobing of Draupadi in the Mahabharata, saying that the politicians maintaining silence on the issue were equally responsible as those practising it.
  • 16 April, 2017: Raising the ‘triple talaq’ issue, PM Narendra Modi said justice should be done to Muslim women.
  • On the other side, AIMPLB said that it has decided to issue a code of conduct and warned that those who give talaq (divorce) without Sharia (Islamic law) reasons will face social boycott.
  • 4 April, 2017: BSP chief Mayawati says that SC should decide the issue of triple talaq as per the constitution to ensure justice for Muslim women.
  • 11 April, 2017: The Centre told the SC that the practices of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy impact the social status and dignity of Muslim women and deny them fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.
  • 27 March, 2017: AIMPLB tells SC that these pleas were not maintainable as the issues fall outside judiciary’s realm.
  • 16 February, 2017: SC says a five-judge constitution bench would be set up to hear and decide the challenge on triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy.
  • 14 February, 2017: SC allows various interlocutory pleas to be tagged along with the main matter.
  • 9 December, 2016: The Allahabad High Court, in a verdict, stopped short of calling the practice of triple talaq under Muslim law unconstitutional but observed that personal laws could not override constitutionally guaranteed rights of individuals.
  • 7 October, 2016: For the first time in India’s constitutional history, Centre opposes in SC these practices and favours a relook on grounds like gender equality and secularism.
  • 29 June, 2016: SC says triple talaq among the Muslims will be tested on the “touchstone of constitutional framework”.
  • 28 March, 2016: SC asks Centre to file a copy of the report of a high-level panel on ‘Women and the law: An assessment of family laws with focus on laws relating to marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance and succession’.
  • SC also impleads various organisations, including the AIMPLB, as parties in the suo motu matter.
  • 23 February, 2016: Shayara Bano from Uttarakhand’s Hempur Daya in Kashipur, filed a petition against the triple talaq, halala and polygamy in the Supreme Court.
  • 5 February, 2016: SC asks Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to assist it on the pleas challenging constitutional validity of ‘triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy.
  • 16 October, 2015: SC bench asks CJI to set up an appropriate bench to examine if Muslim women face gender discrimination in divorce cases while dealing with a case of Hindu succession.

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Published: 22 Aug 2017, 12:26 PM