Triple Talaq Hearing (Day 6): Judgment reserved

Supreme Court: The Constitution bench of 5 judges belonging to 5 different faiths started hearing the Triple Talaq matter on 11.05.2017. The Bench comprising of J.S. Khehar, CJI and Kurian Joseph, U.U. Lalit, R.F. Nariman and Abdul Nazeer, JJ is hearing the matter on day-to-day basis.

Day 6, May 18th, 2017

  • Amit Chadha, appearing for Shayara Bano: In my opinion, Triple Talaq is a sin and is between me and my maker.
  • Kapil Sibal to SC: Only Legislation can interfere in the matters relating to sinful practices in any religion, not you.
  • AIMPLB: We will, within a week, issue an advisory to Qazis to inform every bride her right to specifically mention in the Nikahnama that she will not accept instant triple talaq.
  • SC reserves it’s judgment after 6 day long hearing.

Day 5, May 17th, 2017

  • J.S. Khehar, CJI to AIMPLB: Is it possible to give bride the right that she will not accept instant triple talaq and whether the board’s advisory will be followed by the Qazi at the ground level? Can’t there be a modern and model Nikah Nama to provide for talaq? New Nikah Nama can also do away with instant Triple Talaq and Nikah Nama.
  • Yousuf Muchala, appearing for AIMPLB: Board’s advisory is not mandatory for all Qazis to follow, however, AIMPLB accepts the suggestions in all humility and will look into it. AIMPLB also showed a resolution passed on 14.04.2017 which says Triple Talaq is a sin and community should boycott person doing it.
  • Yusouf Muchala: A Muslim woman has every right to pronounce Triple Talaq in all forms, and also to ask for very high ‘mehr’ amount in case of talaq.
  • SC: Triple Talaq is not a part of Quran. It came later. So if biddat is a sin then why not Talaq-e-biddat i.e. Instant triple talaq? (Note:- Biddat or Bid’ah refers to innovation in religious matters & evil innovations are forbidden under Islamic law.)
  • Senior Advocate V. Giri: Triple Talaq is a part of religion and hence, it is protected by Article 25 of the Constitution.
  • SC: If you yourself say triple talaq is the worst form of divorce and sinful, how does it then become essential to religion? Protection of Article 25 is applicable only when it is about a practice which is essential to your religions and not for what is not essential.
  • V. Giri: Talaq-e-Biddat finds mention in para 230 of Surah 65 of the Quran.
  • SC (after reading out the versus from the Quran): There is absolutely no mention of Talaq-e-Biddat in the Quran, and only two other forms of talaq,  i.e. Talaq-e-Ehsan and Talaq-e-Ahsan, are mentioned in the holy book. You have to read all the paras before and after to give a complete picture. This book says that in every Friday prayers, you say that biddat is bad and should not be practised by any means and now you say it is part of your 1400-year-old faith.
  • Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran: Judiciary cannot dictate to a religious community what personal law practices and norms to follow. A community follows practices that it finds relevant for itself and not what an outsider tells it. India has an express reservation in Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It says that the State follows a policy of non-interference with the personal law practices of any community, unless the community itself takes the initiative to change.
  • Indira Jaising, appearing for Bebak Collective, a Muslim women organisation: But Article I of the CEDAW defines “discrimination against women” and Article 2 obliges the State to act against all forms of discrimination against women.
  • Advocate General Mukul Rohatgi: Issue of Triple Talaq is not an issue of majority or minority. It is an issue of a minority community and that of women within that community.  If Triple Talaq is not present in 25 countries then it cannot be said to be essential to Islam. Rights governed by Article 25 of Constitution are not absolute. Sati, Devdasi etc were once part of Hinduism and were later abolished.
  • CJI: But which one them was set aside by the Court? The were all abolished by bringing in legislation.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Government will do what is necessary but the Court must step in.
  • Indira Jaising: The key question would be whether personal laws will have to stand scrutiny of fundamental laws. At the end of the day, all the systems will have to comply with the Constitution.
  • Day 5 hearing concludes.

Day 4, May 16th, 2017

  • Kapil Sibal on behalf of AIMPLB: Triple Talaq is a 1400 year old practice. Who are we to call it un-Islamic? He adds that Triple Talaq is not a matter of equity of or good conscience. It is a matter of faith just like the Hindu belief that Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya. Just like the Hindus’ faith about Rama’s birth at Ayodhya cannot be questioned, similarly Triple Talaq which is also a matter of faith for Muslims should not be questioned. There is no question of Constitutional Morality involved. Why should Court interfere?
  • R.F. Nariman, J: You mean we shouldn’t hear the matter?.
  • Kapil Sibal: “Yes, you shouldn’t”. In a Hindu majority country, Muslims have to be protected and vice-versa.
  • Kapil Sibal: The dispute is not just the issue of triple talaq but the prevalence of patriarchy among communities. All patriarchal societies are partial. Is it better for a woman to apply for divorce and fight for 16 years and get nothing?
  • Kurian Joseph, J: Are e-divorces also taking place?
  • Kapil Sibal: Divorces are happening even through whatsapp.
  • Kapil Sibal: We are not saying that Triple Talaq is good and should continue permanently. We also want to change but somebody else should not interfere & force the change on us.
  • Kapil Sibal ended his submissions for the day by saying the issue of Triple Talaq cannot be decided in 6 days.

Day 3, May 15th, 2017

  • Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi suggests the hearing of the issues relating to polygamy and Nikah Halala along with Triple Talaq. The bench says that the said matters will be taken up in future. The present hearing will be limited to the issue of Triple Talaq sue to time constraint.
  • Arguing on behalf of the Government, Attorney General: Most radical countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are moving towards reforms but we, as a secular State, are still debating. You are guardians of the constitution. Examine if Triple Talaq is permissible under the constitution. The Government will bring a law if Triple Talaq is abolished. people will not be left in lurch.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: We are the guardians of minority as well as the majority. We will strike down Triple Talaq if Government can establish that it is not an integral part of Islam
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Supreme Court is not an ecclesiastical court to check whether Triple Talaq is essential to Islam or not. Stating that the Court was looking to the problem from wrong abgle, he said that Issues of Muslim marriage and divorce were separated from religion in Shariat Act way back in 1937 itself. The matter should be decided on the basis of fundamental rights of gender equality & human rights under Arts 14, 15, 21 & 51A of the Constitution.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: The tenets of religion can neither be tested on scientific grounds or on other grounds.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Why is the matter being argued before the Constitution Bench then?. Matters are referred to the Constitution Bench because they have something to do with the Constitution. Nothing, no advocacy by man, will help cover something that is wrong by the Constitution.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Women lived in fear of Sati until the law declared it illegal. Muslim women want freedom to live without fear of Triple Talaq.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: Women should be equal, but within the particular religion.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: A constitution bench cannot shut eyes to a Muslim woman’s constitutional rights of equality and gender justice.

Day 2, May 12th, 2017:

  • Court resumes the hearing.
  • R.F. Nariman, J.: One should see difference between theory & practicality at present context in the context of Nikah & Talaq in Islam.
  • Salman Khurshid: Triple Talaq is not practiced anywhere except India.
  • SC: Why all other countries say it is not valid in Islam?
  • Salman Khurshid: Triple Talaq is sinful and is discouraged. But still, it is valid in law.
  • SC: Is it like death penalty, which for some is sinful but legal. If lawful man can be sinful? What is sin in the eyes of God, can it be valid in law?
  • Salman Khurshi: It cannot be.
  • SC: We have to understand the religion from the point of view of what religion says not what you understand in order to test it on the principle of Article 25 (freedom to practice religion) of the Constitution. Tell us whether Triple Talaq is a custom/usage or fundamental to Islam. Where does it lie, Shariat or customs and usage?
  • Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Forum for Awareness of National Security: Triple Talaq violates Article 14 as it gives the right to terminate marriage only to men and not to women.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: The Court is dealing with Personal Law in the present matter and  Article 15 of the Constitution talks about State law.
  • Ram Jethmalani: Triple Talaq makes a distinction on the ground of sex & this method is abhorrent to the tenets of holy Quran and no law can allow a wife to become an ex-wife at the fancy of the husband. No amount of advocacy can or will save this sinful, repugnant practice which is contrary to the constitutional provisions.
  • SC: There are some school of thoughts which say that Triple Talaq is legal but it is the worst and an undesirable form of marriage dissolution.
  • The matter is listed for further hearing on 15.05.2017 as part heard.

Day 1, May 11th, 2017:

  • Amit Singh Chadha, appearing for one of the petitioners Shayara Bano: The practice of Triple Talaq is not fundamental to Islam and hence can be done away with. Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have also declared it to be invalid.
  • SC: We would peruse the prevalent laws in various Islamic countries on the issue.
  • Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for petitioners: In case of divorces being granted through extra-judicial mechanism, there should be a “judicial oversight” to deal with the consequences.
  • Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, assisting the Court in his personal capacity and Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board: Triple Talaq is a non issue.
  • Kapil Sibal: No prudent Muslim would wake up one fine morning and say talaq, talaq and talaq. Salman Khurshid said Triple Talaq not considered complete without conciliation efforts between the husband and the wife.
  • SC: Is the reconciliation after the pronouncement of triple talaq in one go codified?
  • Salman Khurshid: No, it’s not
  • Kapil Sibal: Triple Talaq issue is outside the ambit of judicial review.
  • SC: The issue is, in fact, prima facie related to fundamental rights.
  • SC: If Triple Talaq is declared invalid, what will be the procedure available to husband for seeking divorce? Will it not create a vacuum?

It is important to note that recently on 19.04.2017, the Allahabad High Court has termed triple talaq as unconstitutional, observing that the practice is violation of a woman’s rights. The Constitution bench is hearing the matter during the summer vacations of the Court, in the suo motu proceedings initiated by the Court in In Re: Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality v. Jamiat Ulma-I-Hind, SMW(C) No. 2/2015 with a bunch of related petitions being merged with the case.

Source: PTI & ANI

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