A 5-Judge Constitution Bench at Supreme Court comprising of Judges from Different Faiths will Hear Petitions Challenging Triple Halaq, Polygama and Nikah Halala under Muslim Personal Law Today…
Almost thirty two years have passed since the infamous Md. Ahmed Khan vs. Shah Bano Begum Case (Shah Bano case)—the biggest controversial maintenance lawsuit in the country, but the issue of Triple Talaq and UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) is a subject of public debate, even today. Whether Triple Talaq should be abolished or not is the biggest question of this century. It’s not about public expectations but about what the citizens of India, particularly women, expect from the judiciary and the government. Upholding the constitution and its laws on equality, marital rights and protection of citizens should be the main priority of the judiciary and legislative bodies.
The Judges involved in this case include Chief Justice UU Lalit (Hindu), Justice Abdul Nazeer (Muslim), Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman (Parsi), Justice Kurian Joseph (Christian) and Justice JS Khehar (Sikh) in addition to Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi. The jury will study to what extent they can interfere in the Muslim Divorce Law and preserve the fundamental rights of all citizens enshrined in the Indian constitution.
The Iniquitous Shah Bano Begum Case was an Eye Opener for Indian Citizens…
The issue of triple talaq abolition first surfaced in India when 62-year-old Shah Bano, a mother of five was divorced by husband Ahmed Khan in Indore. Bano filed a criminal suit in the apex court, demanding the right to alimony from her husband. The court ruled in her favor, but she was denied financial support when the Indian Parliament overturned the court’s judgment under immense pressure from orthodox Muslim bodies.
The case triggered several controversies regarding heterogeneous civil codes followed by different cultures and religions in India. To curb protests by women organizations, the Congress government passed the Muslim Women Act for Protection of rights on divorce in 1986. In 1985, when the act was under scruity in the Parliament, Minister of state for Home Affairs Arif Mohammad Khan gave a passionate speech in the house, favoring SC’s judgment in Shah Bano case. His speech highlighted the shortcomings of a private bill passed by MP Banatwala, which exempted the Muslims from Section 125 of Indian constitution—nullified by the SC in Shah Bano’s case.
Khan opposed the bill (a fact mentioned in India after Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha). Khan quoted Maulana Azad’s statement that says, “Even the Quran takes occasion to re-emphasize that proper consideration should be shown to the divorced women under every circumstance”. Despite this, political compulsions overpowered logical sentiments and the act was passed in the Parliament. It weakened the Supreme Court’s judgment by restricting a divorced woman’s right to alimony from their former husbands for a period of 90 days (Iddah) under Islamic Law.
However, the Court nullified the act after passing judgments on Shamima Farooqui versus Shahid Khan and Daniel Latifi case. To everyone’s surprise, the All India Shia Personal Law Board supported the SC’s verdict on divorce alimony.
What is Triple Talaq and why is it Unislamic?
Triple talaq is a provision that allows couples to separate by saying ‘Talaq, Talaq Talaq’ (3 times) or giving it in writing. Islam lays down clear conditions for Nikhah (marriages) in form of a social contract (Nikahnama) accepted by both the parties. The groom has to pay a fixed mehr (dower) to marry his bride, prior to the marriage.
The Quran treats marriage as a serious social relationship and gives equal rights to both wife and husband in terms of divorce. Divorce is simple, easy, but not instant, if we go by Islam. In Quran, many versus lay down options for reconciliation between the couple that can be carried out within a period of 90 days, by the men.
Should the couple fail to reconcile within three months only then will the community accept their separation. Besides, there was an incident where the Prophet reprimanded a man for divorcing his wife in haste. All these facts leave room for instant unilateral divorce in Islam. Therefore, many educated Muslims and the Shia community in India don’t support ‘Triple Talaq’.
Islam Doesn’t Favor Polygamy under Normal Circumstances…
“Marry those among you who’re single” (24.32) quotes Quran. This verse is addressed to both the genders. It states that polygamy is permission under very exceptional circumstances but it has been elevated to regular cases.
What’s the Permanent Solution to the Triple Talaq Problem?
Triple Talaq should be abolished. Why? Because:
- The custom is against the respect, rights and equality of not only women, but all Indian citizens.
- It has no significance in a modern, civilized society.
- It’s “Good in Law and Bad in Religion”, as described by the Personal Law Board in its book “The Compendium of Islamic Law”. Such divorces will dehumanize women.
- This law is orthodox and renders many women and their kids homeless and destitute.
- Many families and individuals are traumatized for life and take years to cope with the evils of Triple Talaq.
- The law can be misused by men. There are many cases in the gulf countries where rich men marry poor girls from Muslim families. They divorce them later and get married to new women thus, spoiling many lives in process.
- It’s a threat to Islam. The downtrodden can be uplifted and the community can progress only if such practices are abolished.
In a national study titled ‘Seeking Justice Within Family”, it was found that out of 4,710 women residing in Muslim dominated cities, about 525 of them were divorced. 40 of them were divorced via SMS, 346 were divorced orally, 117 through mails and 18 were divorced on calls. This proves Triple Talaq is downright insensitive and a debasing practice.
Why does Muslim Personal Law Favor Triple Talaq?
Muslim Personal Law Board members favor triple talaq because:
- They see it as government’s “attempt to interfere and distort their religious views”.
- If a couple shares abusive relationship, it’s good if the husband grants quick divorce to the wife. It’ll open a new room for the wife to search for a better life partner.
- If triple talaq is abolished, men will start killing their wives rather than opting for a trial.
- A woman will be called ‘characterless’. She’ll undergo social abuse if she seeks divorce in the court.
- Obtaining divorce is a long process and it diminishes the possibilities of second marriages.
- Triple Talaq may be a sin but it’s a quick and effective form of divorce.
Now the question arises that if the board members are so worried about pending court cases and interference in their religious matter, why don’t they hear their grievance or find a permanent solution the sufferings of divorced women?
Muslim women want them to adopt the practice of ‘Talaq-e-Sunnah’ (divorce granted in line with Quranic dictation) over ‘Talaq-e-Biddah’ (instant divorce). Today, it’s not just the Muslims but the entire country that looks forward to the SC’s verdict in this case.