A landmark judgment

A Division Bench of the Supreme Court in a landmark judgment on Tuesday held, by a 3-2 majority, that Triple Talaq is unconstitutional and violative of fundamental rights. All forward-looking persons, irrespective of their religion, would hail the judgment. Most grateful to the apex court will be tens of thousands of Muslim women who have been victims of this unjust practice for hundreds of years. Justice Joseph pointed out that triple talaq is not recognized by Koran and as such the practice cannot be defended on the plea of the right to religion. Chief Justice J. S. Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer, in their separate verdict upheld the validity of triple talaq. CJ Khehar asked the Government to bring a legislation in six months which would govern marriage and divorce in the Muslim community.
It would have been far better if the Muslim theologians and Islamic scholars had, of their own accord, struck down triple talaq as being highly discriminatory to Muslim women.  In no other male-dominated society is such a practice, supposedly deriving its sanction from scriptures, in vogue. More than twenty Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh have outlawed triple talaq. The fact cannot be denied that most Muslims unquestioningly accept the interpretations of Islamic law by the Maulanas and the Maulavis. Even among educated Muslims there is a marked tendency to accept the fatwahs of the Muslim clergy, even if these be patently unjust and indefensible. The urge for religious reform should have originated in the Muslim community itself.  Since that did not happen, the court had to intervene to provide justice to the women who could be dispossessed, disinherited and deprived even of their shelter and subsistence by their husbands just saying ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’ even over the phone from thousands of miles away.
The reaction of the Muslim Personal Law Board is not yet known. But it is hoped that it will accept the apex court verdict and welcome it. It is the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937 that gives legal sanction to this practice. The reform in the Hindu community came much earlier, in the wake of freedom when, at Jawaharlal Nehru’s initiative, the Parliament passed the Hindu Code Bill, ending bigamy and polygamy and entitling women to inheritance of paternal property. It is to be hoped that the Supreme Court verdict on Triple Talaq would start a reform movement in the Muslim community.

Wednesday, 23 August, 2017