Published On : Tue, Aug 22nd, 2017

Triple talaq barred till Parliament brings in new legislation

New Delhi/Nagpur: The Apex court has ruled that as of now the controversial Triple Talaq is illegal and cannot be practised to 6 months – which is the time SC has given legislature to bring in ‘new law’ which will be acceptable to Muslim Law board also.

SC has also advised all law makers – MPs – to rise above party affiliations and religious divide to settle the matter fairly.

1400 years old practise of Triple talaq challenged by Govt. in SC siding with Muslim women applicants

The constitution bench was hearing seven petitions filed by Muslim women challenging the 1400-year-old practice, including by one who was divorced on WhatsApp.

The judges who decided on the case are from different communities – Chief Justice JS Khehar (Sikh) and Justices Kurian Joseph (Christian), RF Nariman (Parsi), UU Lalit (Hindu) and Abdul Nazeer (Muslim).

The absence of a woman judge on this crucial panel that affects Muslim women across the country had drawn criticism. Justice R Bhanumati is the only woman judge in the top court.

Once the court gives its verdict, it will be for the legislature to decide if the law should be changed.

During the hearings, the court had clarified that it would only deliberate whether the practice of ‘triple talaq’ is part of an “enforceable” fundamental right to practice religion among Muslims and not on the practice of polygamy.

What does the Indian Constitution say

Under the Indian constitution, religious freedom is subject to all other Fundamental Rights. Article 25 — which guarantees Freedom of Practice and Propagation of Religion — does not protect religious practices since they can negatively affect the welfare of citizens. Article 14, which guarantees the Right to Equality, overrides Article 25 because triple talaq denies a Muslim woman’s equality before the law.

Similarly, Article 25 is subject to Article 15 (1) which says that the State “shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex…” Since triple talaq does not work in the favour of women, it violates Article 15 (1) of the Constitution.

Can Religion be used to deny women of their basic rights?

Muslims are governed by the personal law that came into force in 1937. The NDA government has long argued that practices such as triple talaq violate fundamental rights of women.

The Muslim Personal Law Board had opposed any court intervention, arguing that the court must keep out of matters of faith.

The board did offer suggestions to check the practice – getting men to guarantee during the wedding they will not subject their wives to triple talaq, and a social boycott of men who do.

The Centre told the Supreme Court that the practices like ‘triple talaq’ impact the social status and dignity of Muslim women and deny them fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.