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Respect SC verdict but Triple Talaq isn't un-Islamic: Muslim law board

Atul Chandra | Updated on: 22 August 2017, 21:29 IST

The Supreme Court’s majority judgment declaring Triple Talaq in one sitting (talaq-e-biddat) as “unconstitutional” has come as a setback for the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board and has put it on the defensive.

“Had the board taken steps to prevent misuse of the Islamic provision this situation would not have arisen,” said a Muslim professor from Lucknow University. He refused to be identified as “it is a very sensitive issue”.

Talaq-e-biddat is used in rare cases but was being grossly misused, he said. He explained that it would be justified if a man comes home to find his wife in bed with another man. Instant talaq would be a better option than killing the woman in a fit of rage.

Still the percentage of divorces taking place through Triple Talaq was very low compared to divorce among non-Muslims, said Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimahali, the board’s spokesman, insisting that instant talaq was permitted in rare situations.

“It is very much a part of Quran and Hadith,” Maulana Khalid Rashid said.

A law is not abolished for its misuse. Instead, one puts checks and balances in place and evolves a mechanism to prevent its misuse. Article 356 has also been misused, but can it be abolished,” Khalid Rashid said.

“Just because a few persons misused it to suit their interests does not make the law un-Islamic. If some Muslim women wanted the law abolished, 3 crore of them also signed a petition in favour of instant talaq,” the Maulana said. The signature campaign was started by the AIMPLB after the apex court began hearing petitions filed by Shayara Bano and others, questioning the validity of Triple Talaq.

The Board was also contemplating changes in nikahnama (marriage contract) to make Triple Talaq difficult.

“I respect the Supreme Court’s verdict but the Board’s official stand will be announced after its meeting at Bhopal on September 10,” Khalid Rashid said refusing to comment on the three-two verdict of the Supreme Court.

Shaista Ambar, the president of the All-India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board, was overjoyed with her “victory”. She praised the judgment amidst offering and accepting sweets and demanded that like the Hindu Marriage Act there should now be a Muslim Marriage Act and that Muslim women should be allowed to give Triple Talaq. “Aaj aurton ko azadi milee hai (women have won freedom),” Ambar said.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted: “Supreme Court’s judgment on Triple Talaq is historic. This will not only help women get justice but also empower them.”

In a statement released to the media later in the evening, the AIMPLB “welcomed” the judgment “since it accords protection to Muslim personal law and says that the personal laws cannot be tested by courts on the grounds of violation of fundamental rights”.

It described as “huge victory for us” the “majority” comprising Chief Justice of India, Justice Khehar, Justice Abdul Nazeer (with Justice Kurian Joseph agreeing) giving personal laws the status of a fundamental right being protected under the right to practice religion contained in Article 25.

“Insofar as the practice of talaq-e-biddat is concerned, we had submitted to the court that the practice of three pronouncements of talaq in one sitting, though it has basis in religious texts and belief thereon, is not the best way of pronouncing talaq,” the statement said.

Referring to the model nikahnama, the statement said that the board had informed the court about instructions being issued to maulvis and qazis to “incorporate conditions in the nikahnama to provide for the option to the marrying parties to exclude the option of pronouncing talaq three times in one sitting.

While accepting the judgment, the board said it will examine the issues of its implementation.

It hoped that the reference to Parliament by Justice Kehar and Justice Nazeer, being the minority view, was inconsequential.

Abdul Hafeez Gandhi, who teaches law at the Unity Law College in Lucknow said while he welcomed the judgment he expected the Supreme Court to look at the more important issue of “personal laws are not laws and cannot be challenged under Article 25”. This pertains to laws which were in force prior to the enforcement of the Constitution.

First published: 22 August 2017, 18:13 IST