A watershed moment in the history was witnessed when judiciary of India criminalized the practice of Triple talaq or Talaq-ul-biddat, which has been a very prejudicial practice due to which Muslim women have been agonized to a great extent.
“What is sinful under religion cannot be valid under law”
Islam is one of the oldest religions around the world today. Often these days, Islam is criticized due to frequent terror attacks and because of it’s customs of polygamy, Nikah halala or Triple Talaq. ‘Triple talaq’ is a customary practice, prevalent among Muslims, that dissolves a marriage when the husband says the word ‘talaq’ thrice in any form, including email or text message. The custom is criticized for being unilateral and biased against women, and is banned in 22 countries of the world.
Most Islamic countries, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned triple talaq, but the custom continued in India, which does not have a uniform set of laws on marriage and divorce that apply to every citizen.
The practice of Talaq-e-biddat is said to be around for more than 1400 years among Sunni Muslim. But, this is not mentioned in the Quran and the Sharia law. As per Quran, marriage is intended to be unbounded in time the relationship between the spouses should ideally be based on love and important decision should be made by mutual consent. Triple Talaq is Un-Quaranic, goes against the spirit of the constitution and most importantly it is unjust and inhuman.
It is regretful how egalitarianism almost always ends up becoming an area of contention. India has not yet adopted Uniform Civil Code (Article 44 of the Indian Constitution), which in my point of view is a progressive and positive democracy, but given that India follows secularism, every religion is practiced according to the norms and traditions of their history.
India has a large population of Muslims and they are governed under Muslim Personal (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 it legalized and permitted the practice of Triple Talaq, which granted a Muslim husband special rights over his wife. The questions that were widely raised when the discrimination was questioned were, even if the traditions allow a man to say Talaq thrice, be it in the heat of the moment, the same right is not granted to the women. Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan is a Muslim women’s advocacy group, who launched a campaign against triple Talaq. They conducted a survey, which showed that more than 90% women were against this cultural norm.
Triple Talaq has always been viewed as a political and religious controversy than that of human rights one. Predominantly being practiced for self-absorbed and immodest reasons. Almost in all cases women were subjected to domestic violence.
Article 25 of the constitution grants religious freedom but any practice that leads the religion to violate human rights and intentionally or unintentionally support gender inequality, should without wasting time be unconstitutional and illegal. In 2015, Shayara Bano, from Uttarakhand, filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a ban on Triple Talaq when her husband sent her a letter pronouncing ‘Talaq’ thrice and ended 15 year long marriage based on three words that too sent by letter.
Her petition requested the Supreme Court to declare Triple Talaq, polygamy and nikah halala illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate the rights guaranteed by the Constitution under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25. Supreme court in 2015 registered a suo motu PIL petition to examine if triple Talaq is against women rights. She also mentioned that the legislature has failed to ensure the dignity and equality of women in general and Muslim women in particular especially when it concerns matters of marriage, divorce and succession.
On 22nd August 2017, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court in a split verdict ruled that the practice of triple Talaq unconstitutional and stated that it was vocative of Article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman and U U Lalit said triple talaq should be illegal, while CJI JS Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer backed triple talaq. It was a win for muslim community and upliftment of gender equality.
AG Mukul Rohatgi observed that
“Gender equality, gender equity and a life of dignity and status is an overreaching constitutional goal.”
Triple Talaq Law
Triple Talaq , also know as Muslim women (protection of rights on marriage) Bill,2019 was passed by the Indian parliament as law on Jul 30,2019,to make instant Triple Talaq a criminal offence.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad defended the bill, saying the practice had not stopped despite it being banned. He told the Rajya Sabha that some 574 cases were reported after the Supreme Court verdict.
“The Judgement has come, but no action on triple talaq has been taken. That is why we have brought this law, because the law is a deterrence,” he said.
The Rajya Sabha passed the bill; with 99 votes in its favour and 4 against it .The Triple Talaq make instant Triple Talaq a criminal offence and provides a jail term of three years for Muslim men who commit the crime. The law also makes the Triple Talaq a cognizable and non-bailable offence.
Judicial activism has played a vital role in the development of justice system of India. One year after the law was passed, Naqvi said in July 2020 that there has been about 82% decline in triple talaq cases since the law against the “social evil” was put in place.
Hiding a social evil behind the thin veil of culture is not a foreign concept in our country. When it comes to religion and rights of women, the lines or right and wrong tend to get blurred very often. Women Empowerment is not a movement, it’s a necessary revolution needed for dignity. Relying on religion to deny rights to a particular gender has been happening through history. Banning Triple Talaq is a huge step forward in the Muslim community but a small step in the world itself.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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