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SC strikes down triple talaq, says its ‘unconstitutional’

SC strikes down triple talaq, says its ‘unconstitutional’

The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the Muslim divorce law terming it “unconstitutional".

The constitution bench, headed by the Chief Justice JS Khehar, delivered a spilt verdict invalidating the practice as part of the Muslim Personal Law.

In a 3-2 verdict, the top court said triple talaq or instant divorce under which women have been divorced in one go even over email, WhatsApp and letters, was against Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality.

The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to bring in a legislation on the controversial issue.

“Talaq-e-Biddat (instant divorce) is manifestly arbitrary which allows a Muslim man to break down a marriage whimsically,” the five-judge SC bench said. The majority judgment came from three judges Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice Kurien Joseph and Justice UU Lalit.

The minority verdict by CJI Khehar and justice Nazeer, which favoured to keep on hold the practice of triple talaq for six months, asked the political parties to set aside their differences and help the Centre in coming out with a legislation.

The judges in the minority verdict said that if the Center does not bring a law within six months, then its injuction on triple talaq will continue.

After six days of the historic hearing, which saw some of the top lawyers argue whether triple talaq was essential to Islam or not, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice UU Lalit were of the view that triple talaq was not essential to Islam and therefore it should be banned.

“Instant triple talaq is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. It must be struck down,” said Justice Rohinton Nariman.

“There are four sources of Islamic law. Only the Quran is the first source of law… therefore, sources other than the Quran are supplement to what is in it. There can be nothing more than what is written in the Quran… Triple talaq is against the tenets of Quran and therefore violates Shariat,” Justice Kurian Joseph said in his verdict.

“Freedom of religion is absolute… but what is bad in theology is also bad in law. What is bad in Quran can’t be good in Shariat,” Justice K Joseph added.

‘Small step from Supreme Court, a giant step for women, it is a very, very important judgment. This makes women equal, as they are entitled to be under the Constitution’, said Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister for Women and Child Development.

The judgment came two years after a woman from Uttarakhand, Shayara Bano, approached the top court after her husband of 15 years sent her a letter with the word ‘talaq’ written thrice to divorce her.

Since then, other women have filed separate petitions in the Supreme Court, pleading for an end to the custom. The top court then clubbed all the petitions.

‘It's a historic occasion for the women of the Muslim Community. I appeal to the people to not politicise this issue and accept Supreme Court's verdict on triple talaq. I have felt the pain when family breaks. I hope no one has to undergo this situation in future", said Shayara Bano.

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