The triple talaq law allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by uttering the word “talaq” three times. It has been at the center of controversies for the longest time as it raises questions about human rights and gender justice.
It all started when Shayara Bano, a 35-year old woman from Uttarakhand approached the Supreme Court in 2016. Her husband gave her a triple talaq in October 2015 after which she wrote a petition in 2016.
In her petition, Shayara asked the apex court to declare talaq-e-ibadat, polygamy and nikah halala illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the right guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 14, 12, 21 and 25.
The Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar heard seven petitions, including five separate writ petitions filed by Muslim women challenging the 1400-year-old practice prevalent in the community.
Some women have even been left destitute by their husbands divorcing them via Skype and WhatsApp.
In what can be called as a momentous and historic decision, SC today ruled in 3:2 majority, said that triple talaq is void and illegal. The apex court struck down the practice and asked Centre to formulate a law on triple talaq. If the government is unable to bring a law in 6 months, then the stay on the law will prevail. The committee formed by the government will now push for a uniform civil code.
The country’s five senior-most judges declared that triple talaq, the practice of Muslim men getting an instant divorce by saying “talaq” three times, will be barred for six months until Parliament brings in a law. Interestingly, all 5 judges are from different communities – Chief Justice JS Khehar (Sikh) and Justices Kurian Joseph (Christian), RF Nariman (Parsi), UU Lalit (Hindu) and Abdul Nazeer (Muslim).
The SC’s verdict may also decide the age-old debate of whether personal laws can be brought under the ambit of Article 13 of the Constitution.
Article 13 includes in its ambit any “ordinance, order, by-law, rule, regulation, notification and even customs and usages” passed or made by the Legislature or any other “competent authority”. It mandates that any law in force in the country before or after the commencement of Constitution should not violate the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined in Part III.
While the Supreme Court has observed that instant talaq or triple talaq or Talaq-ul-Bidaat is invalid and unconstitutional, the second kind of divorce available to Muslims is the revocable divorce or Talaq-ul-Sunnat. However, several reports said that the Supreme Court will not be considering the legality of revocable talaq when the petitions were being heard.