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SC strikes down instant triple talaq
BY RESMI SIVARAM August 23, 2017
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled the Triple Talaq as unconstitutional. Three judges in a constitutional bench of five judges from five different faiths held this view and asked the government to bring legislation in Parliament to regulate marriage and divorce for the Muslim population.

“In view of the different opinions recorded by a majority of 3:2, the practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ triple talaq is set aside,” the constitution bench said in a 395-page order.

Disagreeing with the majority view, Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer suggested putting the practice on hold for six months and asking the government to come out with a law in this regard. They pointed out that the court cannot interfere with religious personal laws which are considered as a fundamental right by the Constitution. However, they said Triple Talaq “may be sinful.” During the hearing, the government had promised such legislation in Parliament.

Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said the verbal divorce practice is illegal. While Khehar said talaq-e-biddat is an integral part of the Sunni community and has been practised for a 1,000 years, Justice Kurian Joseph said, “Extremely difficult to agree with Justice Khekar that Triple Talaq is integral to practice of Islam. What cannot be true in theology cannot be protected by law.

“Triple Talaq is not recognised by the Holy Quran and hence it cannot be a practice to be protected under the right to religion.” The three judges also said the practice of divorce through triple talaq is manifestly arbitrary and violative of the Constitution and must be struck down.

In a swift response, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said it will take a decision on the judgement at its working committee meeting set for Sept.10 in Bhopal.

In a statement, it said: “We are aware that many Muslims believe that Talaaq-E Biddat (triple talaq in one sitting) has a basis in religious beliefs and practices. While we accept the judgment, we will examine the issue of the implementation and will work to resolve the same.

“The Supreme Court’s view can not be misused by the government to try to interfere with personal laws through legislation.” AIMPLB, during the arguments for the case in May, said that the divorce practice might be “horrendous, sinful and undesirable” But it also warned that “testing the validity of customs and practices of a community is a slippery slope into which the Supreme Court must not venture.” The apex court bench was made up of judges from different religious communities — Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Hindu and Muslim. They heard seven pleas, including five separate petitions filed by Muslim women challenging the divorce practice in the community.

Shayara Bano, 36, from Uttarakhand, was the main petitioner. Shayara, who holds a degree in MA Sociology, was divorced by her husband Rizwan Ahmed, by pronouncing the word talaq thrice through a letter sent to her on Oct.15, 2015 when she was visiting her parents’ house.

The Centre had told the judges 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.

The government had termed talaq-e-biddat, talaq hasan and talaq ahsan, as “unilateral” and “extra-judicial.” Political parties in general welcomed the verdict, which is seen as a political triumph for the government led by Narendra Modi. Modi has many times come out in support of Muslim women, terming his stand against triple talaq a matter women empowerment.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday tweeted that the Supreme Court judgement is great victory and a welcome step.

Palaiappan Chidamabaram, who has held senior positions in Congress governments, welcomed the judgment, calling it a resounding affirmation of gender justice. “Triple talaq was a distortion of the original Quranic legal principles. Good that it has been declared unconstitutional.”

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