India abolishes summary Islamic divorce practice

India abolishes summary Islamic divorce practice

A Muslim practice allowing men to summarily divorce their wives by repeating the word ‘talaq’ three times has been declared unconstitutional by India’s Supreme Court.

The 1,400 year old practice was brought to an end this week after the five-judge bench ruled 3:2 that talaq-e-biddat is illegal in a judgment spanning 395 pages.

The court confined itself to the question whether triple talaq was valid under the Constitution rather than wade into issues of personal law - those laws governing family matters of India’s various religious communities. Nor did it consider other forms of talaq.

In its deliberations the court took into account that fact that at least 20 Muslim countries have abolished triple talaq and examined the current practices of Sharia courts, known Dar-ul-Qaza in India.

Indira Jaising, senior advocate for for Muslim women petitioners, said: “This battle has been going on for 25-years now. It began with Mary Roy Judgement (1986) against inheritance laws which till then were biased towards sons. It resurfaced during the Geeta Hariharan Judgement (2015) that gave rights to mothers to be sole guardians of their children. judgement is also a step forward.”

Zakia Soman, co-founder of the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement, added: “It’s a very happy day for us. It’s a historic day. We, the Muslim women, are entitled to justice from the courts as well as the legislature.”

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