Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on 22 October that it is high time for India to abolish triple talaq and do away with the discriminatory practice which has been denying justice to Muslim women.
"It is time for the country to move forward and abolish triple talaq to end the discrimination and have gender justice and equality before law. Articles 14 and 16 assure these things. It is time to move and go according to the Constitution and end this practice, which discriminates Muslim women," said Naidu.
On 7 October, the Centre had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that triple talaq is not an essential religious practice in Islam. "Gender equality and dignity of women are non-negotiable, overarching constitutional values and can brook no compromise," the government said in an affidavit filed in the top court. The Muslim law board claimed that triple talaq is a 'personal law', and hence, cannot be modified by the Centre.
The government countered the claim of the Muslim law board and said, "Practices of triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala cannot be regarded as essential part of religion and hence get no protection under fundamental right to religion."
Defending the Centre's opposition to the triple talaq system, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserted that in a secular nation like India, women cannot be allowed to suffer such arbitrary and derogatory systems.
Listing out the Centre's three-fold stand which was given in response to the Supreme Court over certain petitions filed by Muslim women, Prasad said that firstly, the issue concerns only and only about the dignity, non-discrimination of women, respect to them and gender justice and India being a secular country governed by a constitution, the abiding values of its constitution about gender justice, dignity of women needs to be respected. "The second is, India is a secular country. Secularism is a basic structure of the Constitution. Can we, where we have got a secular India, allow the women to suffer a kind of a system which is derogatory and arbitrary?" he said.
Illuminating the third point, the union minister mentioned that in more than a dozen Islamic countries, ranging from Bangladesh to Syria and even Pakistan, matrimonial laws have been regulated by law, including triple talaq.
In August, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), in its reply to the petitions, had defended the validity of triple talaq, saying that if the practice is discontinued, a man could murder or burn his wife alive to get rid of her.
"If there develops serious discord between the couple, and the husband does not at all want to live with her, the legal compulsions of time-consuming separation proceedings and expenses may deter him from taking the legal course. In such instances, he may resort to illegal, criminal ways of murdering or burning her alive," the AIMPLB's affidavit had stated.
Triple talaq is the act of giving divorce to one's spouse in one setting.