New Delhi: Triple talaq is the "worst and undesirable form" of dissolution of marriage among Muslims, the Supreme Court observed on Friday as it continued hearing into the constitutional validity of the practice that lets Muslim men divorce by saying the "talaq" thrice. The country's five seniormost judges headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar started the hearings yesterday that are expected to go on for the next week or so.
The court was also informed during Friday's hearing that many countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia do not allow triple talaq to dissolve marriages.
There are "school of thoughts (which) say that triple talaq is legal, but it is the worst and not desirable form for dissolution of marriages among Muslims," Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, a member of the five-judge constitution bench said.
Justice Nariman's observation when senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who was asked to assist the court, appeared to suggest that the practice of triple talaq was optional. That women had the right to stipulate in the 'nikahnama', or marriage contract that the husband would not have the right to divorce through triple talaq.
The court has made it clear right in the beginning that it would examine if triple talaq is an essential part of Islam. If this is the case, it would not go any further.
The court is hearing a bunch of petitions, some of them from Muslim women who were divorced over WhatsApp, to ask the court to put an end to triple talaq. The government had supported this contention and asked that the court expand the ambit of the proceedings to cover other practices such as polygamy as well. This suggestion, however, wasn't accepted.
On Thursday, the judges had wondered how Muslim men would divorce if the court were to strike down triple talaq. The bench that also comprises Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Nariman, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice S Abdul Nazeer was concerned that if the legislature did not act, such a verdict could create a legal vacuum.
Ram Jethmalani, who is representing one of the petitioners, called triple talaq abhorrent to the tenets of holy Quran because it makes a distinction on the ground of sex. "No amount of advocacy can or will save this sinful, repugnant practice which is contrary to the constitutional provisions," he added. "No law can allow a wife to become an ex-wife "at the fancy of the husband" and it is "the highest kind unconstitutional behaviour", he said.