The Supreme Court today said that it would examine whether the practice of triple talaq among Muslims is fundamental to their religion. The triple talaq case started in February last year when Shayara Bano, divorced through the practice, petitioned the Supreme Court for a ban on triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala. Thousands of Muslim women across the country have since formed pressure groups and spearheaded signature campaigns demanding that triple talaq be abolished.
Notably, Shayara Bano was given ‘talaq’ by her husband Rizwan Ahmed. She had claimed that while she was at her parents’ home in Uttarakhand’s Kashipur district, Rizwan sent her the talaq-nama from Allahabad, according to a report by The Indian Express on April 24, 2016.
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“Soon after the wedding, they started demanding a four-wheeler and more money. But that wasn’t the only problem. From the very beginning, my husband would threaten to give me talaq each time he found some fault with me. For the first two years of marriage, when I didn’t bear a child, my mother-in-law would egg him on to divorce me,” Shayara, who is today mother to a boy and a girl, told IE.
Shayara moved to the Supreme Court, seeking equality before law and protection against discrimination on the basis of her gender and religion.
In her petition, Bano had also challenged ‘instantaneous triple talaq’ and not triple talaq itself, which is allowed by the Quran as long as the three utterances are spread over 90 days. Shayara’s is the first such case where a Muslim woman has challenged an Islamic practice citing Fundamental Rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, the report says.
Bano holds a post-graduate degree in sociology.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar today said it would look into the aspect whether triple talaq is part of an “enforceable” fundamental right to practice religion by Muslims.
The bench also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and Abdul Nazeer, however, said the issue of polygamy among Muslims may not be deliberated upon by it as this aspect is unrelated to triple talaq.
The bench, made up of judges from different religious communities — Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Hindu and Muslim — is hearing seven petitions, including five separate writ petitions filed by Muslim women challenging the practice of triple talaq prevalent in the community. The petitions claim that triple talaq is unconstitutional.