The Supreme Court of India today granted victory to Indian women and makes August 22, 2017 a historical date! Marking a major victory for women’s rights activists, India’s topmost court has ruled the practice of instant divorce by just uttering the words – talaq, talaq, talaq as unconstitutional. The court has also stayed the practice for six months until the government brings up the needed legislation.
The Supreme Court verdict came after considering petitions challenging the so-called “triple talaq” custom. The cases were filed by five Muslim women who had been divorced this way and two rights groups. India was until now among a handful of countries where a Muslim man could divorce their wives in seconds by just saying the word talaq (divorce) three times.
With the Supreme Court’s judgment comes the suspension of instant Islamic divorces for the next six months. The Indian parliament has now to create appropriate laws and bring the legislation in place. Instigation by parents and family is the single largest reason for divorce among Muslims, according to a survey of 20,671 individuals (16,860 men and 3,811 women) carried out between the months of March-May 2017.
Interestingly, there were only 0.3% of reported divorces of both women and men respondents under the oral triple talaq at one go! The most common reasons cited for talaq and there percentiles are as follows: 13.27% – instigated by parents/relatives, 8.41% – unable to fulfill dowry demand, 7.96% – husband having affair, 7.08% – wife not having children, 6.19% – not being a good housewife, 4.87% – husband has no job/lost job, 4.42% – sexual incompatibility, 3.54% – husband does not like the wife, 2.65% – couple only has girl-children, 2,65% – wife’s health not good, 0.44% – spur of the moment anger, 0.88% – alcoholic – pronounced talaq under influence of alcohol, 37.61% – other reasons.
The Supreme Court struck down the validity of instant triple talaq by a majority of 3:2. A bench comprising of five judges, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar included Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and S Abdul Nazeer. There are actually six petitions before the Supreme Court, with the main plea filed by Uttarakhand-based Shayara Bano. Her husband of 15 years divorced her by pronouncing triple talaq.
In a 3:2 majority judgment, the Bench set aside talaq-e-biddat or instant talaq, the practice of Muslim men divorcing their wives by uttering talaq thrice consecutively. If a law does not come into force in six months’ time the Supreme Court injunction will continue. Interestingly countries in which triple talaq is already banned include Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Bangla Desh, Pakistan, Sudan, Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Algeria and Tunisia.