The Supreme Court today banned the controversial Islamic practice that allows men to leave their wives immediately by stating “talaq” (divorce) three times.
Tuesday’s verdict was delivered in a 3:2 majority by a 5-judge bench of all faiths — Chief Justice of India J S Khehar (Sikh), Justices Kurian Joseph (Christian), Rohinton Nariman (Parsi), Uday Lalit (Hindu) and S A Abdul Nazeer (Muslim).
While Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer wanted to put triple talaq on hold for six months till the government made a law on this.
Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman and U U Lalit ruled the practice was “manifestly arbitrary and violative of the Constitution”. It should be struck down, they said.
The Constitution so far has held that the 1400-year-old triple talaq is legal for Muslims.
The three judges said the practice was against the basic tenets of Islam.
The apex court referred to the abolition of triple talaq in Islamic countries and asked why independent India could not get rid of it.
More than 20 Muslim countries, including neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned the practice.
The minority verdict by CJI Khehar and Justice Nazeer said triple talaq may be “sinful”, but the court could not interfere in personal laws considered a fundamental right.
They instead favoured to keep on hold the practice for six months, asked political parties to set aside differences and help the Centre in coming out with a legislation.
The judges in the minority verdict said if the Centre did not bring a law within six months, then its injunction on triple talaq would continue.
CJI Khehar and Justice Nazeer also expressed hope the Centre’s legislation would take into account concerns of Muslim bodies and the Sharia law.
The Bench held sittings during summer vacation to decide the validity of triple talaq. It was hearing a batch of petitions filed by Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality. The hearing was completed in six days.
The petitioners had questioned the validity of triple talaq and had argued that it infringed with Muslim women’s fundamental right to equality.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had asserted that triple talaq may be sinful but it was a practice in existence for close to 1400 years.
“We don’t want the court to enter into a slippery slope. Court should not venture into the area and interpret something, which is not in its domain. Personal law, customs and faith cannot be tested under the garb of fundamental rights,” the Muslim board had said.