New Delhi, Today is the kind of day when the Muslim women of India might feel some joy in their hearts, a smile on their lips and some spring in their feet, as the Supreme Court of India today struck down the validity of instant triple talaq by a majority of 3:2.
Two judges (Justice Nariman and Justice Lalit) set it aside terming it unconstitutional whereas Justice Joseph set it aside on ground that it is against the teachings of Quran. A bench comprising five judges, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, had reserved its verdict on May 18 this year, after the hearing it for six days.
Today the Apex court came down heavily on this age old practice of triple talaq and raised the hopes of Muslim women by many notches. The court did in one single sweep what any government since independence could not gather the courage to do so.
“The verdict speaks volume about the progress of the nation. I think it (judgement) heralds good things for the country and its citizens – Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand
With this latest development the Indian Muslim women will be hopefully insulated from being divorced in haste and will enjoy almost the similar rights as their counterparts from other religions in matters of marriage. But still the triple talaq handed out to the woman over a period of three months with some intermittent counselling will be valid.
Instant triple talaq to be unconstitutional and void is a great victory for all those who always believed that personal laws in India must also be progressive and must be compliant with the constitutional guarantees – Arun Jaitley
This judgement came in the wake of seven petitions filed by various individuals. The main petitioner was Shayra Bano 36 years of age, who was divorced by her husband by sending a talaqnama by speed post. Another petitioner Ishrat Jahan of 30 years was divorced by her husband by uttering triple talaq over phone and he later took her children away from her.
During the hearings, the court had clarified that it would only deliberate whether the practice of ‘triple talaq’ is part of an “enforceable” fundamental right to practice religion among Muslims and not on the practice of polygamy.
We have to respect the judgement. It is going to be a great Herculean task to implement this on ground – Asaduddin Owaisi, AIMIM
Union Minister Arun Jaitley in an interview with Door Darshan said that instant triple talaq to be unconstitutional and void is a great victory for all those who always believed that personal laws in India must also be progressive and must be compliant with the constitutional guarantees. The practice of instant triple Talaq enabled the husband to unilaterally terminate the matrimonial relationship without any loss. The defaulting husband could even take advantage of his own wrong and terminate the relationship. This seemed injustice and oppression of the female spouse and Virtually left her remedy less. Now it’s been contended over the last several decades. This practice has become obsolete. Many parts of the Islamic word themselves have rejected it and ordinarily the reform of this kind should have risen from within the community itself.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, who was part of the central government’s legal team led by former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, said the verdict “speaks volume about the progress of the nation.” She added, “I think it (judgement) heralds good things for the country and its citizens. We have been able to deal with the malpractice and degrading practice and cast them away with the taint.”
President of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board Shaista Amber, who has been fighting for the rights of Muslim women said,”the Supreme Court decision is historic, it is the victory of women in the country. But more than that, it is the victory of Islam. We hope that triple talaq will be banned once and for all in times to come.”
Even the president of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen Asaduddin Owaisi said, “We have to respect the judgement. It is going to be a great Herculean task to implement this on ground.”
But after all the joy and celebration that is being expressed all over the country right now, one has to keep in mind that this judgement has banned the triple talaq for only six months asking parliament to legislate it by then. The Court says in its judgement that it can not interfere with the personal laws of any community unless the constitution of India allows it.
But the most positive aspect of this judgement so far has been the way it is being welcomed across all party lines. Now all eyes are set on the BJP government who is in total majority at the centre, Where it needs to be implemented constitutionally in due time i.e. six months from now.
Then only the Muslim women of India will be able to heave a sigh of relief in real. They have a long battle ahead of them. They still have to undergo discriminatory treatment on the marriage front as Muslim men still can marry four times as the shariat allows them to and the Muslim personal law in India can not be interfered according to our constitution. Inheritance laws in Islam too are not in favour of women as opposed to equal property and inheritance laws enjoyed by all Indian women of other religions according to the constitution of India.
The matter of the fact is census figures show that for every Muslim man divorced in India, four Muslim women are divorced. Also, under Islamic law, a Muslim man is allowed to keep four wives. Since the Muslims are a closed community in India, most of these are intra-faith marriages. Even among those who consider themselves to be separated rather than divorced, the figures tell a similar story.
For every separated Muslim man, there are three separated Muslim women. The number of divorced Muslim women in 2011 touched almost half a million – a 40% increase as compared to 2001. The number of divorced Muslim men although much lower than Muslim women, grew much more at almost 70% during the same period.
Almost 0.22 million Muslim women in age group of 25-39 years identified themselves as either divorced or separated. By the time a Muslim woman in India reaches the age of 60, almost half a million of them have been divorced. Till the time a Muslim woman is younger than 24 years, less than 1% are divorced as compared to their married counterparts. However, once she crosses that age threshold, the proportion of divorced Muslim women to married Muslim women rises phenomenally.
These pathetic figures itself tell the sad story of Indian Muslim women. Which needs to change drastically as early as possible and for the betterment of our society at large.