New Delhi: Triple talaq, the controversial Muslim divorce law that allows men to leave their wives immediately by uttering "talaq" (divorce) thrice, has been banned by the Supreme Court, which today called it illegal, retrograde and unworthy. Calling the practice "bad in law", a constitution bench of five judges said that triple talaq "is not integral to religious practice and violates constitutional morality".
- Supreme called triple talaq illegal, retrograde and unworthy
- Seven Muslim women had filed petitions challenging the practice
- Triple talaq lets Muslim men leave wives by saying "talaq" thrice
Triple talaq is legal for Muslims according to the constitution, but several Muslim women who have been divorced, including by Skype and on WhatsApp, had challenged the 1400-year-old practice.
Five judges of different faiths - Chief Justice JS Khehar, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer - heard the case over five days from May 12 to May 18.
"Triple talaq may be a permissible practice but it retrograde and unworthy. Since triple talaq is instant it is irrevocable and the marital tie gets broken, it violates the right to equality," said the court.
Two judges - including the Chief Justice - differed and said while triple talaq "may be sinful", the court can't interfere in personal laws that are considered a fundamental right by the constitution.
During the arguments, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board described the divorce practice as "horrendous", "sinful" and "undesirable" with no sanction of the Quran and the Shariat. However, India's largest Muslim body had also cautioned that "testing the validity of customs and practices was a slippery slope".
The government had backed the petitioners, declaring triple talaq unconstitutional, and derogatory and discriminatory for women. But it had argued that the court should first pronounce its decision on the constitutional validity of triple talaq, only then it would bring a law.