Triple talaq: Allahabad HC slams practice, calls it a monstrosity against spirit of Holy Quran

The debate on validity of triple talaq intensified after the Allahabad High Court on Thursday termed the system as unconstitutional. The court added that it is the Constitution of India that is supreme and not the Muslim Law Board. The high court bench said that Triple Talaq violated human rights and that personal law of any community cannot be above the Constitution.

The observation comes in the wake of discussion and debate getting vocal about the validity of Muslim Law Board and this statement by Allahabad High Court is a boost for women petitioners involved in the case of triple talaq.

Coming down heavily on triple talaq, the court called it instant divorce, and said it's "most demeaning" and "impedes and drags India from becoming a nation". "The question which disturbs the court is — should Muslim wives suffer this tyranny for all times? Should their personal law remain so cruel towards these unfortunate wives? Whether the personal law can be amended suitably to alleviate their sufferings? The judicial conscience is disturbed at this monstrosity," a single judge bench of Justice Suneet Kumar said.

 Triple talaq: Allahabad HC slams practice, calls it a monstrosity against spirit of Holy Quran

Representational image. Reuters

"Muslim law, as applied in India, has taken a course contrary to the spirit of what the Prophet or the Holy Quran laid down and the same misconception vitiates the law dealing with the wife's right to divorce", he said.

"The purpose of law in a modern, secular state...is to bring about social change. The Muslim community comprise a large percentage of Indian population, therefore, a large section of citizens, in particular women, cannot be left to be governed by archaic customs and social practice under the garb of personal law purportedly having divine sanction", the court observed.

"India is a nation in the making, geographical boundaries alone do not define a nation. It is to be adjudged, among others, on the parameter of overall human development and how the society treats its women; leaving such a large population to the whims and fancies of a personal law which perpetuates gender inequality and is regressive, is not in the interest of the society and the country. It impedes and drags India from becoming a nation", the court remarked.

The court observed, "Divorce is permissible in Islam only in case of extreme emergency. When all efforts for effecting a reconciliation have failed, the parties may proceed to a dissolution of marriage by talaq or by 'khola'. The view that the Muslim husband enjoys an arbitrary, unilateral power to inflict instant divorce does not accord with Islamic injunctions.It is a popular fallacy that a Muslim husband enjoys, under the Quranic Law, unbridled authority to liquidate the marriage."

"The whole Quran expressly forbids a man to seek pretexts for divorcing his wife, so long as she remains faithful and obedient to him," the court said in an order dated 5 November.

"The Islamic law gives to the man primarily the faculty of dissolving the marriage, if the wife, by her indocility or her bad character, renders the married life unhappy; but in the absence of serious reasons, no man can justify a divorce, either in the eye of religion or the law", the court said.

The court made the observations while dismissing the petition of Hina, a 23-year-old woman, and her husband who was
30 years her senior and had married her "after effecting triple talaq to his wife".

Speaking with CNN-News18 Kamal Farooqui of All India Muslim Personal Law Board said, "This is not a judgment, just an observation." Adding to that Congress' Rashid Alvi said, "This view of the Allahabad High court won't stand in the Supreme Court. I don't agree with what the Allahabad HC has to say. No one is above the Constitution and nobody should interfere in the practises of any community."

Other ministers reacted to High Court's observation:

The Muslim Law Board has announced that it will file a petition against the order. The issue is expected to gain more ground and the matter of arbitrary divorce debated upon after this order. The controversial Shah Bano maintenance case in 1986 raged a debate on the rights of Muslim women and their exploitation on the grounds of Triple Talaq, a personal law that allows muslim man to divorce his wife by uttering the word 'talaq' three times.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

This order will also embolden the advocates of Uniform Civil Code and bring the personal law boards under pressure. Considering the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, this decision gains more significance. On 23 November, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had said that muslim women cannot be treated like second class citizens in a developing country like India and he termed the Triple Talaq as a burning issue.

On the issue of 'triple talaq', the Centre had in an affidavit in the Supreme Court last month opposed the practice. The AIMPLB and various other outfits have objected to the affidavit and Law Commission's questionnaire on Uniform Civil Code and announced their boycott of the move, accusing the government of waging a "war" against the community.

In an appeal issued on 7 October, the Commission had said the objective of the endeavour was to address discrimination against vulnerable groups and harmonise various cultural practices.

In the appeal, it has assured the people that the "norms of no one class, group or community will dominate the tone and tenor of family law reforms". Indicating need for wider consultation before taking a call on Uniform Civil Code, the government had in June asked the Law Commission to examine the issue.

The move asking the law panel to examine the issue assumes significance as the Supreme Court had recently said it would prefer a wider debate, in public as well as in court, before taking a decision on the constitutional validity of triple talaq, which many complain is abused by Muslim men to arbitrarily divorce their wives.

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Updated Date: Dec 08, 2016 17:24:02 IST