Supreme Court reserves verdict over Triple Talaq

Hindu beliefs not questioned Muslim faith is Indian Muslim law board

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) whether a woman can be given an option of saying "no" to triple talaq at the time of execution of "nikahnama" (Islamic marriage contract).

But the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board that represents the interests of women from the community has argued that it wasn't fundamental to Islamic tenets. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar also said if all Qazis can be asked to include this condition at the time of marriage. You can incorporate this option in the Nikaah Nama before she gives consent to Nikaah to say no to triple talaq, Chief Justice Khehar asked the AIMPLB.

Another former Union minister and senior advocate, Kapil Sibal, who appeared for AIMPLB, said that Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi had raised the issue of constitutional morality in the matter.

When Rohatgi cited the steps taken to reform Hindu practices, including the banning of sati, infanticide and the devadasi system, Justice Joseph said that all those were legislatively decided.

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"Substantiating my view with reasons and examples, I asserted that it can not be justified and can not be given law's validation", Khurshid said during the hearing. Yesterday, the Court seemed to change its mind and said it may look at these two issues as well (more on this later). "But if there is a clash between your personal law practices and the fundamental rights of equality and dignity, your personal law practices should give way", Mr. Rohatgi replied.

On the second day of the hearing, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, who is the amicus curiae in the matter, said before the Supreme Court that the controversial Islamic divorce system can not be justified whatsoever.

He added: "It (instant talaq) has been followed for 1,400 years, whether it is right of wrong. Even Article 25 [freedom of religion] is subject to fundamental rights", Mr. Rohatgi responded.

Justice Rohinton Nariman referred to the government's dare that it would bring in a new Muslim divorce law if the Supreme Court first struck down all three forms of triple talaq as unconstitutional.

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India's current government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, favors such a law. The learned Counsel for petitioner Mr. Kapil Sibbal has argued that though the talaq-i-biddat (instantaneous triple talaq) has no mention in Quran, still it is a matter of faith for 1,400 years for followers of Islam.

30 March: SC says these issues are "very important" and involve "sentiments" and says a constitution bench would start hearing from 11 May.

"There is a little difference in my and personal law board's opinion", he said. Who are we to question the validity of triple talaq which has been validated by Hadith and held to be valid by a majority of companions of the Prophet?

Comparing practices in Islamic countries, Rohatgi said that in 25 nations, religion continued to strive even after abolishing triple talaq and hence, this can not be termed as "integral part of Islam". Referring to a survey that took 300 divorces into account from a community as large as 160 million, Sibal tried his best to dissuade the court from determining the validity of triple talaq, saying it was rarely employed to end marital relations.

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It had also said that the issue of polygamy and "nikah halala" would be kept pending and will be dealt with later.

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