New Delhi, Aug 22: In a historic verdict, Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the triple talaq practice as ‘unconstitutional’ by a 3:2 majority. The apex court held triple talaq as “unconstitutional”, “arbitrary” and “not part of Islam”. While Justices Kurien Joseph, Rohinton Fali Nariman and Udey Umesh Lalit said that triple talaq is ‘unconstitutional’, Chief Justice J.S. Khehar and Justice S. Abdul Nazir, in a minority judgment, held that triple talaq is integral to Islamic practices and enjoys constitutional protection.
The bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar had reserved its verdict on May 18 after a six-day marathon hearing on triple talaq. The apex court had earlier observed that the practice of ‘triple talaq’ was the “worst” and “not a desirable” form of dissolution of marriage among Muslims.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, on May 11, told the Supreme Court that it opposes the triple talaq practice and wants to fight for women equality and gender justice. On the other hand, senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, appearing for All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the apex court that triple talaq is a matter that comes under the Muslim Personal Law Board and therefore, in his opinion, the top court should not interfere with it.
- The debate on the validity and plausibility of triple talaq was instigated soon after one petitioner, Shayara Banu, challenged the Muslim Personal Law over instantaneous application of triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat), polygamy and nikah halala.
- On October 16, 2015, Supreme Court ordered Chief Justice of India (CJI) to set up a bench for the separate listing of a PIL addressing the question of the rights of Muslim women. The apex court asked to examine if Muslim women face gender discrimination in cases of divorce.
- In February 2016, Supreme Court asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to assist it on the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of polygamy, triple talaq and nikah halala.
- On March 28, the government was asked by the apex court to file the report of a high-level panel on ‘Women and the Law: An assessment of family laws with focus on laws relating to marriage, divorce, custody and inheritance’.
- On October 7, the government for the first time opposed triple talaq in Supreme Court and asked for a relook on grounds like gender equality and secularism.
- In December, the Allahabad High Court termed the Islamic practice of divorcing a woman by uttering the word “talaq” thrice “unconstitutional”.
- Supreme Court, on February 16, 2017, said a five-judge constitution bench would be set up to hear and examine the legality of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy.
- In April this year, All India Muslim Personal Law Board said that the board has decided to issue a code of conduct and warned that those who give divorce without Sharia (Islamic law) reasons will have to face social boycott.
- Explaining the Centre’s stand on the issue of triple talaq, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on April 18 said practice of triple talaq should not be allowed as women have as much right as men and cannot be treated on a lower pedestal.
- On May 3, Supreme Court allowed Salman Khurshid as amicus curiae in the hearing of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy.
- On May 11, the apex court said it would determine if triple talaq is in line with the Constitution and fundamental to Islam and not go into issues such as polygamy.
- On May 12, Supreme Court began hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq. On the first day of the hearing, the five-judge constitutional bench of Supreme Court said the practice of triple talaq was the “worst” and “not desirable” form of dissolution of marriages among Muslims.
- The government will bring in a new law to regulate and marriage divorce among Muslims if the practice of triple talaq is declared unconstitutional, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court on May 15.
- Defending triple talaq, the AIMPLB on May 16 said that constitutional morality and equity cannot arise when a matter of faith is concerned.
- On May 17, the bench asked AIMPLB if a woman can be given an option of saying ‘no’ to triple talaq at the time of execution of nikahnama — Islamic marriage contract. It also asked if all Qazis can be asked to include this condition at the time of nikahnama.
- On May 18, Supreme Court reserved its verdict on triple talaq.
- On August 22, Supreme Court struck down the triple talaq practice.