Triple talaq violates right of Muslim women: SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday held the Muslim practice of triple talaq unconstitutional and struck it down by 3:2 majority.

The SC said triple talaq violates the fundamental right of Muslim women as it irrevocably ends marriage.

Triple talaq , or verbal divorce, is practiced by some in the Muslim community to instantly divorce their wives by saying talaq three times.

Justices Rohinton Nariman, Uday Lalit and Joseph Kurien ruled that triple talaq is unconstitutional. Justice Abdul Nazeer and Chief Justice JS Khehar upheld the validity of triple talaq.

CJI Khehar asked the government to bring legislation in six months to govern marriage and divorce in the Muslim community. He added that talaq-e-biddat is an integral part of the Sunni community and has been practiced for a 1000 years, reported ANI.

The ball is now in Parliament’s court. It is to be noted that the Centre had during the course of hearings earlier this year told the bench that it will come out with a law to regulate marriage and divorce among Muslims if ‘triple talaq’ is held invalid and unconstitutional by the apex court.

In February this year, the SC said a Constitution bench would be set up to hear and decide on whether ‘triple talaq’, the oral divorce practice some Muslims follow, is constitutionally valid. The bench reserved its verdict on May 18 after a six-day marathon hearing during the summer vacation.

Shayara Bano, a 35-year-old woman, challenged the practice in 2016, a year after her husband of 15 years divorced her via triple talaq. Petitions of four other Muslim women – Aafreen Rehman, Gulshan Parveen, Ishrat Jahan and Atiya Sabri – were tagged with Bano’s plea.

Some Muslim groups see the issue as a matter of religious right while others, including the Centre, termed it unconstitutional.

The bench had asked All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) why a “custom which is theologically sinful” was “part of the practice of a community”. The question was asked after AIMPLB took the stand that triple talaq might be sinful yet it was a religious practice dictated by Sharia.

“Testing the validity of customs and practices of a community is a slippery slope into which the Supreme Court must not venture,” said the board’s lawyer Kapil Sibal.

Opponents of the practice pointed out that triple talaq was not permitted even in several Muslim countries. The Centre took a firm stand, saying that oral, instant divorce must be declared unconstitutional+ and also asserted “triple talaq is not a basic and integral part of Islam”.

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