The Supreme Court has delivered a landmark verdict on Triple Talaq today, striking it down as unconstitutional by 3:2 majority, with Justices Kurian Joseph, UU Lalit and RF Nariman delivering the majority verdict, whereas Chief Justice Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer dissented. While political reactions have been pouring in, we spoke to some of the women lawyers from Supreme Court. They have welcomed the verdict as a historic one and this is what they had to say.
Sonali Basu-Parekh, Partner in a leading law firm in New Delhi, shared her legal insights on the triple talaq verdict with FE Online, “This is a historic judgment in India’s legal history, not just a victory for women. The Constitution is not only a legal document but it is the basis of our national life. When you allow a large part of your population to be oppressed, the concepts enshrined in the Constitution of India are denied to them. Now, this is a part of our social engineering framework and we believe that our Constitution has always been progressive. The verdict on Triple Talaq is a huge step for all women and not just Muslim women – you cannot segregate women anymore.”
Speaking to FE Online, Aishwarya Bhati, the former Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary said, “Great judgment for women. This is a momentous, historic verdict by Supreme Court. It is a great decision.”
Mahalakshmi Pavani, Senior Advocate, told FE Online, “The verdict is a victory for women and it puts all women on an equal footing before the law for the first time. However, the saddest part of this judgment, in my personal opinion, is that the verdict puts the ball in the Government’s court. By asking Parliament to make a law, this will escalate into a political issue because we all know that it cannot happen so easily. The Supreme Court should have grabbed the opportunity wholly to strike down Triple Talaq when there was every reason to do so. The old law should have been struck down. The SC should have seized this opportunity.”
To put the verdict into actual implementation for Muslim women, does this now require another long wait before the Parliament makes the law? For an ordinary person, the very idea of waiting for implementation can be quite a challenge.
“It is not a necessity as such because triple talaq has been already struck down. A law is required only for a comprehensive codification of all rights, and not just the issue pertaining to triple talaq. Remember, there is no law governing Muslim law – it is now essential to state clearly in terms of law ‘What next?’ and ‘How will this now be implemented’ and ‘will there be a punishment for those who violate it?’ The law is for regulation, not for striking down talaq as unconstitutional, which has already been done by the Supreme Court. A majority judgment is fully binding. A dissenting judgment does not make it less so and the last paragraph with the operative order makes it clear that Triple Talaq has been set aside,” explains Sonali Basu-Parekh.
What about legal options for those who want to challenge the verdict?
“The new legislation will be challenged, this verdict can be reviewed, modification/clarification will be sought. There will be a political debate too on this issue. So, in a sense, we will have to wait and see what happens. We cannot really celebrate this landmark verdict yet but yes, it is a historic verdict for women,” Mahalakshmi Pavani, Senior Advocate, told FE Online.
Are there any legal options going forward for those who want to challenge the verdict?
According to Sonali Basu-Parekh, “The triple talaq verdict of the Supreme Court is fully binding. Triple talaq is gone, it has been struck down. It is settled law now, but yes, there may be those who want to seek legal remedies and that is possible. ”
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Speaking to TV media persons after the verdict was delivered, the petitioner Shayara Bano welcomed the landmark judgment as ‘historic for all Muslim women.’
So, what exactly did the petitioner challenge in this historic case? In simple terms, she had challenged the constitutional validity of the Islamic practice of Triple Talaq.
Besides Shayara Bano, there were other petitioners in this case including Afreen Rahman, Ishrat Jahan, Gulshan Parveen and Farha Faiz, whose petitions the SC Bench considered.
For now, the Supreme Court’s verdict is loud and clear: Triple Talaq is NO MORE.