Triple talaq is a form of divorce in Islam where a Muslim man can divorce his wife legally by stating the word talaq three times in verbal or written form. Its practice has been a matter of controversy and has faced opposition from the Muslim women. For the last two years, this issue has been in media attention after petitions were filed and campaigns were launched to ban triple talaq and “nikah halala”. The verdict of the Supreme Court was much awaited and has been historic.
The chronology of events and the case in detail:
On 16th October 2015, the SC bench asks the Chief Justice of India to form an appropriate bench to examine if Muslim women are facing gender discrimination and inequality in cases of divorce. On 5th February 2016, SC asks Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to help it on the appeals challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq, Nikah halala and polygamy. On 28 March 2016, the SC asks Centre to file a copy of the report on ‘Women and the law: An assessment of family laws with a special focus on laws related to marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance, and succession’. SC also takes proceedings against various organizations. On 29th June 2016, SC states that triple talaq among the Muslims will be tested on “touchstone of constitutional framework”. On 7th October 2016, the Centre opposes in SC these practices and favors an examination on grounds of gender equality and secularism. On9 December 2016 in a verdict The Allahabad high court stops short of calling the practice of triple talaq unconstitutional under the Muslim law but states that personal laws could not overrule constitutionally guaranteed rights of individuals.
On 14th February 2017, the Supreme Court allows several interlocutory pleas to be attached to the main matter. On 16th February 2017, the SC states that a five-judge constitution bench will be formed to hear and decide the matter of ‘triple talaq’, ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy. On March 27, 2017, AIMPLB (All India Muslim Personal Law Board) states to SC that these pleas were not retainable as the issues fall outside judiciary’s domain. On 30th March 2017, SC states that as these issues are very important a constitution bench will start hearing from May 11.On 11th April 2017, the Centre told the SC that triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy affects the dignity of Muslim women and they remain deprived of the fundamental rights given to them by the Constitution and on 14thApril Mayawati tells that as per the Constitution the SC should decide the issue of triple talaq to provide justice to Muslim women. On 16th April Narendra Modi States that Muslim women should be given justice. AIMPLB also said that the board decided to issue a code of conduct and said that those who give talaq without Sharia reasons will face consequences. On 17th April UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath said that the politicians who are silent on the issue of triple talaq were equally responsible like those who are practicing it. On18th April, Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi stated that the practice of triple talaq should be prohibited as women have equal rights. On 21 April, the Delhi high court dismissed an appeal asking to stop the practice of triple talaq on Hindu women married to Muslim men. On 29th April, the opposition charged Narendra Modi for using the triple talaq issue for political benefit.On3rd May 2017 SC allows Salman Khurshid to hear pleas challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq, ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy. On11th May, SC stated that it will determine if the Muslim practice of triple talaq complies with the Constitution. On12th May 2017, the SC stated that the practice of triple talaq was the worst form to end marriages but there were some schools of thought which termed it as “legal”. On 15th May, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the SC that the Centre will formulate a new law to regulate the marriage and divorce among Muslims if the practice of triple talaq is declared unconstitutional and the SC also did not agree to hear all the three cases of Polygamy, Nikah and Halala at once saying it will focus only on one matter at a time. On 16th May, AIMPLB states that triple talaq is an age old practice and ethics and justice cannot be there where there is a matter of faith. On 17th May, SC asked AIMPLB that whether a woman can be given a choice of saying ‘no’ to triple talaq at the time of marriage laws.On May 18, SC reserves verdict on the practice of triple talaq. OnMay 22, AIMPLB files affidavit in SC stating that it will recommend the ‘Qazis‘ to tell bridegrooms that they will not use triple talaq to nullify their marriage. On Aug 22, 2017, SC by a majority verdict of 3:2 stated that divorce of Muslim women through triple talaq is illegal, unconstitutional and against basic beliefs of Quran.
The women who fought against theTriple Talaq and filed the Petition:
Several Muslim women have been divorced on phone, through text messages or through letters and believe the practice to be unlawful and unconstitutional. Shayara Bano from Uttarakhand is the first woman who approached the Supreme Court after her husband of 15 years sent her a letter with talaq written thrice on it and left her. She also requested the court to declare talaq-e-bidat, polygamy and nikah halala unfair and unconstitutional. Along with her four other women, Ishrat Jahan from Howrah, West Bengal, Gulshan Parveen of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, Aafreen Rehman and Atiya Sabri filed Petitions in the Supreme Court. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) also filed a petition against the triple talaq.
The five judges of the Supreme Court Chief Justice JS Khehar, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer heard this case over five days from 12th May to 18th May. The SC by a majority verdict of 3:2 stated that divorce through triple talaq is illegal and unconstitutional and against the basic tenets of Quran. The apex court stated that the triple talaq was against the basic tenets of Quran. Three judges favored the practice to be put on hold for six months asking the government to come out with a law in this regard.
The present situation:
Many activists from the Muslim community have welcomed the verdict and termed it as one of the best reforms in the country. The historic judgment has restored the dignity of the Muslim women and the verdict is a landmark for gender equality. This decision by the Supreme Court will empower the women and they will not have to face inequality.
The reactions of the well-known people to the verdict:
Many famous people and celebrities welcomed this historic decision by the Supreme Court. PM Narendra Modi called the verdict historic. Union minister Arun Jaitley said the verdict of the SC a victory for all who believed personal laws should be progressive and in compliance with the Constitution. BJP president Amit Shah said it’s a victory for basic constitutional rights and right to equality of Muslim women. Famous Actor Anupam Kher said the decision is for the win of women empowerment. Acclaimed Actress Shabana Azmi welcomed the Supreme Court’s verdict and believed it to be a victory for Muslim women.