Mumbai, Indian (BBN) – India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the use of a Muslim divorce law until the government frames new legislation, a partial victory for Muslim women who had long argued that the rule violated their right to equality.
“This is a sensitive case where sentiments are involved. We are directing the Union of India to consider appropriate legislation in this regard,” Justice J.S. Khehar said while announcing a six-month suspension on the practice of the divorce law, reported aljazeera.com.
The law allows Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word “talaq” three times.
Muslim women say they have been left destitute by husbands divorcing them through “triple talaq”, including by Skype and WhatsApp.
Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andola, a Muslim organisation, launched a campaign two years ago to ban triple talaq.
Triple talaq was already ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in a number of cases, including in February 2015.
A recent survey released by the BMMA found that 92 percent of the 4,710 Muslim women surveyed wanted a total ban on verbal or unilateral divorce.
Muslims in India, who make up the largest religious minority in the country, are governed by the Muslim Personal Law.
The legislation is not codified, which means it is open to interpretation by local clergy.
As a result, BMMA noted that Muslim women are “excluded educationally, economically and socially owing to government neglect and suffer from near absence of any legal framework in matters of family and marriage”.
After her husband gave her triple talaq in October 2015, Shayara Bano approached the Supreme Court in 2016, challenging the validity of the divorce practices against women followed by Muslims, reported Times of India.
Shayara is a 35-year-old woman from Uttarakhand’s Kashipur area and was married for 15 years before she was divorced.
In her petition, Shayara asked the apex Court to declare talaq-e-bidat, polygamy and nikah halala illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the rights guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25.
However, her husband opposed Shayara’s plea on the ground they were governed by Muslim Personal Law and all three practices are sanctified provisions under the very same law.
The Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar was hearing seven petitions, including five separate writ petitions filed by Muslim women, challenging the practice of triple talaq prevalent in the community and terming it unconstitutional.
The apex court had on its own taken cognizance of the question whether Muslim women faced gender discrimination in the event of divorce or due to other marriages by their husbands.
Five judges from five different communities heard the triple talaq case in the Supreme Court. They are Chief Justice JS Khehar (Sikh), Justices Kurian Joseph (Christian), RF Nariman (Parsi), UU Lalit (Hindu) and Abdul Nazeer (Muslim).