New Delhi: The Supreme Court in its landmark verdict on Tuesday ruled that the practice of triple talaq is void and illegal.
The five-judge bench set aside triple talaq by a 3-2 majority. Justice Rohinton F. Nariman and Justice Uday U. Lalit set it aside, terming it unconstitutional and violative of Article 14, while Justice Kurian Joseph set it aside on the grounds that it is against the teachings of the Quran, according to the Indian Express. Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer backed the triple talaq. “Triple talaq was part of Muslim personal law and hence enjoys the status of fundamental rights,” Justice Khehar said.
The Supreme Court also referred to the abolition of triple talaq in Islamic countries, asking why independent India could not get rid of it.
Justices Nariman and Lalit said that triple talaq was manifestly arbitrary and the 1937 Act, which recognises it, was unconstitutional and struck it down.
Justice Joseph said that triple talaq was against the tenets of the Quran, violated Sharia law and was not an integral part of Islam. He said that the purpose of the Act of 1937 was to declare Shariat the only law governing Muslims – and since the practice was bad in Sharia, it was bad in law. He disagreed with Justice Nariman about Shariat law being in force under the constitution.
Justices Khehar and Nazeer held that triple talaq could not be struck down based on it being in violation of Article 14, 15 and 21 since there is no state action and these articles are sanctions against state action. They said that the practice, which has prevailed for a long time, was integral to Islam in India and part of personal law. They directed the Central government to frame a law on triple talaq and placed an injunction on Muslims from practicing triple talaq for six months.
Also read: Untangling the Debate on Triple Talaq
The bench had on May 18 reserved its verdict after a six-day marathon hearing during summer vacation. During the hearing, the Supreme Court had said that it would not deliberate on the issue of polygamy and would only examine if triple talaq was part of an “enforceable” fundamental right for the religious practice of Muslims.
The bench had heard seven pleas, including five separate petitions filed by Muslim women challenging the prevalence of triple talaq. The petitioners had claimed that triple talaq was unconstitutional.
During the hearing, the court had observed that the practice was the “worst” and “not a desirable” form of dissolution of marriage among Muslims, even though some schools of thought called it “legal”.
Several lawyers, including Ram Jethmalani, had attacked the practice on various constitutional grounds, including the right to equality, and termed it “abhorrent”.
It was argued that triple talaq was a discrimination on the ground of gender and this practice was abhorrent to the tenets of the Quran and no amount of advocacy can save this “sinful” practice that is contrary to constitutional tenets.
Read the judgement here:
(With PTI inputs)