The news of the year for India, is out.
The Supreme Court has declared the practice of Triple Talaq Unconstitutional!
I had expressed hope before, through this article, that the verdict may ban the practice altogether. Well, at least half of it came true.
The contents of the exact order are still not available to the public. So far we have only been receiving tweets, and interview excerpts from the advocates and social workers attending the case, but it seems that following are the broad points the SC verdict has clarified –
- The practice of triple talaq has been declared unconstitutional, it is void and illegal, because it is against the fundamental rights of women.
- A majority of the 5 judge bench has ruled that triple talaq is not a fundamental right.
- The Apex court has passed an injunction staying the practice of triple talaq on Muslim men for 6 months.
- The Court has directed the legislature to enact a law regulating triple talaq in the aforementioned period. On the elapse of such period, the stay on the practice shall continue.
The first thought that came to me as I read the news reports online was, ‘why 6 months only, why not forever, or why not for over a year?’ But I have to commend the dexterity of the presiding judges in handling a sensitive matter like this, for it is a very, very sensitive issue for Muslim Indians. The Apex Court has very smartly refrained from forcing a sledgehammer down on Islamic law and has instead given the Government and the Muslim community time to resolve and change their personal laws through the more acceptable route – the Legislature, where the will of the public and vote bank politics govern how laws are shaped in this country. So has the Apex Court tried to shirk responsibility by forcing the Legislature and the Government to take initiative? Well, not really, because technically it is their responsibility to make laws in the land. The Judiciary can’t make and then preside over the same laws. The SC has only slapped the government in the face and asked them to take note and get their act together.
Coming to the issue of how the public is reacting over it, needless to say a lot of our Muslim citizens are not happy with the verdict and feel that this is a direct threat to their culture and a violation of their right to practice religion. However, I urge them to remember, that this is not a religious or political issue at all. It is a matter of human rights, a matter of equality and respecting the institution of marriage. It is a matter of the rights of those women who have been divorced at will, have been denied a means of sustenance for themselves and their children, and have no recourse, social, legal or otherwise, to get what even in Shariat law and under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, is due to them from a husband who has divorced them.
This verdict proves that the Indian society is evolving and what is required now is to let the laws evolve along with the people. For how long are we going to sustain laws that no longer are feasible or are unconscionable? Why are we protecting practices that allow maltreatment and abuse of our citizens in the name of religion, upholding our culture and protecting our values? Anything and everything, as long as it’s against the fundamental rights of a human being, should be, at all times, considered illegal and unacceptable by every civilized society. Being human should never be a matter of religious or political debate.
With that, I end on the hope that the Muslim community and the Legislature enact a law that sits well with both our religious as well as human sentiments, and paves way for a society that preserves and upholds the principles of equality, justice and humanity.
Copyright ©2017 Pradita Kapahi.
All rights reserved.
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