The SC verdict in the triple talaq case comes as a whiff of fresh air which would restore self-respect among Muslim women
Dr Pramod Pathak
The Supreme Court bench finally announced the decision by majority that the custom of triple talaq is unconstitutional and that the Government of India has to enact suitable legislation with respect to triple talaq. The text of the judgement is on board, running into 395 pages. It is an all comprehensive document on the very vital aspect concerning the plight of Muslim women who are victims of the inhuman tradition long prevailing among the followers of the Hanifi school of Sunni Islam. In the very beginning, the document clarifies that triple talaq as referred to in the text means talaq-e-biddat i.e. talaq pronounced in one go and implying irrevocable divorce of the Muslim married couple. It further states, ‘the understanding of the ‘verses’ of the Quran, is imperative in this case, because the petitioner and those supporting the petitioner’s case contend inter alia, that ‘talaq-e-biddat’, is not in conformity with the unambiguous edicts of the Quran, and therefore, cannot be considered as valid constituents of Muslim ‘personal law’ (Judgement text Pg 27). As earlier stated by the writer in the Organiser, “Triple talaq has no sanction in Islam” issue dated May 1, 2016. The view has been endorsed by the Honourable Supreme Court.
It has given a ray of hope to the Muslim women in general and their future generations, as one of the petitioners Shayara Bano expressed during the post judgement interview. It was not for herself that she approached the court, but for her daughter who should not suffer from the same ignominy. There was jubilation in the camp of victims of triple talaq. They distributed jalebis. As was seen on the TV channels, the mullahdome were diverting discussions to the unrelated topics. This judgement has made a nationwide impact as was expected. It will usher the whole Muslim society into another phase of moderation as far as their attitude towards women folk is concerned.
It is to be noted here that the consul for AIMPLB in support of validity of triple talaq referred to the Hadith narrations which were regarded as of late origin and considered unreliable. It was highly unbecoming on the part of AIMLPB to point out that the earlier judgements and reference material concerning divorce and related matters were delivered by “the persons who are not Sunnis, and those who did not belong to the Hanafi school, could not have been validly relied upon” (pg 198). This could be viewed as direct assault on the
integrity of the judgemental abilities of the concerned honourable Judges. Another consul observed that, “It is acceptedby all schools of law that ‘talaq-e-biddat’ is sinful, yet some schools regarded it as valid…..” (pg 165).
The AIMPLB has, of late, been relenting. The Board submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court, that hence forth AIMPLB “will issue an advisory through its Website, Publications and Social Media Platforms and thereby advise the persons who perform ‘Nikah’ (marriage). They should make sure that a contract document is prepared
beforehand where, in a situation “leading to Talaq, the Bridegroom/Man shall not pronounce three divorces in one sitting, since it is an undesirable practice in Shariat;” (Pg 160) and a bride would have right to deny the situation of facing
It is known that the talaq tradition used to prevail among the Arabs from the jahalia—pre-Islamic times of ignorance. The revelation of HQ Sura 65 is attributed to the incidence of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) announcing talaq to one of his wives. Talak-ul-biddat was introduced by the Omeyyade monarchs in the second century of the Mahomedan era” (pg 391). It implies that it is not the part of either Holy Koran or Hadiths or Sunnah as the Islamic tradition is called. At one stage Hon. Judge also asked that, anything labelled biddat, if is considered invalid, then how can talaq-e-biddat be considered valid. As it stands now, the Supreme Court has made the triple talaq constitutionally invalid and that the Government i.e. Parliament has to enact suitable a law to counter triple talaq, possibly making it a punishable crime and incorporating preventive measures in favour of brides who are not paid the alimony in most of the cases. Had there been a lady judge member on the bench, it would have surely altered verdict to certain extent.
As the Supreme Court bench has put onus of enacting the law on to the Government, it is expected to give rise to storm in coming months. On the TV discussions the AIMPLB members and clerics were down toning the intensity of the problem. They stated from the survey of the Muslim women who were victims of triple talaq that incidence of it is insignificant and that brouhaha made about it has political overtones. As it was showed earlier, “Triple talaq: Skewed data, Skewed arguments (Organiser issue dated June 18, 2017), here too AIMPLB gave skewed statistics and that the incidence of triple talaq and failure to pay alimony was much higher. All the while AIMPLB and mullahdome have been in denial mindset. With triple talaq empowering the Muslim women, it will demolish strong bastion of their influence.
The onus lies on the present Government which is viewed as
opposing the minority and interfering with the freedom given by the constitutionto the minority citizens of the country. Under these conditions it will only be the humanitarian approach that will help to overcome the resistance. The first and foremost consideration will be to accord equality to the Muslim women. They are treated half equivalent of men in many respects. In future, they do not get victimised. As also, the personal freedom has limitations. If marriage is a contract in Islam, then it cannot be one way contract. When the contract document will come into picture, it should accord penalty for one way abrogation of contract and not honouring the post talaq terms and conditions as per contract. These are must for treating a woman with due respect. It will also mean countering the theological arguments from the Mullahdome in their jargon such that they will have to accept the humanitarian and human rights approach towards Muslim ladies. As it will have to be passed in the Parliament, discussions with Political parties pulling in different directions will have to be roped in. Recent success of the Government in passing GST in both the houses can be an indicator. It will be stupendous task and period of six months will not be enough. In fact there will attempts to botch it. So the success will lie in finding the way out of strong swirl of eye of the impending storm. Ultimately it will be Satyamev Jayate—let the truth prevail for humanity.
(The writer is a scholar in Comparative Religon)