The Supreme Court’s historic verdict banning triple talaq is both a boost and a challenge for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is a boost for the government because the judgement validates his campaign against a pernicious practice that Muslim women have long struggled to get abolished. It’s a challenge because he must now affirm that he pursued this campaign for the right reasons – to help Muslim women in their fight for gender justice and equity – and not, as is widely perceived, as part of a Hindu majoritarian agenda to further diminish and ghettoize the Muslim community.
A five-judge Supreme Court Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, pronounced its judgment on the legality of the Islamic personal law practice of triple talaq and whether it violates the fundamental and human rights of gender equality and dignity of Muslim women. In a 3:2 majority judgment, the Bench set aside talaq-e-biddat or instant ‘talaq’, the practice of Muslim men divorcing their wives by uttering ‘talaq’ thrice consecutively. It is a progressive decision which judiciary has taken. The defaulting husband could even take advantage of his own wrong and terminate the relationship. This injustice and oppression on female spouse and virtually left her remedy-less. It was being contended over the last several decades that this practice has become obsolete.
The decision which has come on 70th year of independence is a very progressive one and it should be welcomed by all section of the society. The Supreme Court has intervened at the right time. The majority view of the SC is absolutely clear that this instance pronouncement is not fundamental to the religion itself. Triple Talaq is not an essential part of the religion and therefore it is discriminatory. It compromises the dignity of women itself and being violating of constitutional guarantees itself is void. It is indeed a landmark judgement. Shayara Bano, Triple Talaq Victim and petitioner welcomed and support the judgement. It’s a historic verdict for Muslim women.
The bench, comprising judges from different religious communities – Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Hindu, and Muslim – heard seven pleas, including five separate petitions filed by Muslim women challenging the prevalent practice. It has said that all personal laws must conform with the Constitution and rights of marriage, divorce, property and succession have to be treated in the same manner across communities.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)