India Court Rules Muslim 'Instant Divorce' Unconstitutional

25 August, 2017, 01:25 | Author: Douglas Reid
  • Ravi Shankar Prasad in an exclusive conversation with India

"Muslim women want to have a life equal to that of another woman, say a Christian or a Hindu wife", the government had argued in court.

India's Supreme Court on Tuesday banned the controversial practice of instant divorce practised by some members of the Muslim community.

The historic verdict on instant triple talaq pronounced by the Supreme Court had mixed reactions from various quarters.

Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has pushed for a so-called "uniform" civil code that would apply equally to all Indians, a move some Muslim groups have opposed.

"What is sinful under religion can not be valid under law", the three judges said.

The All India Shia Personal Law Board spokesperson Maulana Yasoob Abbas too welcomed the decision, saying it will help end harassment of Muslim women in the name of triple talaq. The BBC reports that it was Shayara Bano, a 35-year-old mother-of-two, who last year became the first woman to challenge her divorce on the grounds that it violated her fundamental rights.

He described the judgment as the "beginning of a new epoch for women to live with self-respect".

Justices Kurien Joseph, Rohinton Fali Nariman and Udey Umesh Lalit held that triple talaq is not integral to Islam, is banned in law and lacks approval of the shariat (Islamic religious law). In many Muslim countries this practice is prohibited.

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The former minister brought out the flaws of instant Talaq and insisted how a married woman could be on the streets just due to her husband saying Talaq three times.

The judgement is not a rejection of the personal laws or a call for their total reform.

India's Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional a Muslim practice that reportedly allows men to "instantly divorce" their wives, a move some claim is a landmark victory for Muslim women to get greater equality.

Underlining the importance of personal laws for the protection of minority rights, CJI Khehar said, "The elevation of personal law to this stature came about when Constitution came into force".

This leeway can be used by government to try to carry out changes in personal laws.

However, invoking Article 142 to injunct Muslim men from divorcing through talaq-e-biddat, the Chief Justice said the fact that even the Muslim world has shed talaq-e-biddat and there is no excuse for India to lag behind. "However, the decision now empowers us to make efforts to actually save the women from the injustice", she added.

"We, the Muslim women, are entitled to justice from the courts as well as the legislature", she said.

The SC ruling comes as a political plus point for the BJP government, and could prove to be a stepping stone to introducing a uniform civil code, which has always been on the lotus party's agenda.

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