The Supreme Court sought the response of the Centre on a petition filed by a Muslim woman challenging the triple talaq provision in the Muslim personal law for grant of divorce. A Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and AK Goel issued notice after hearing senior counsel Amit Singh and counsel Balaji Srinivasan questioning the legality of the provision.
The petitioner Shayara Banu is a female Muslim citizen whose husband has illegally divorce her after frequently subjecting her to cruelty during the currency of their marriage. The Petitioner wishes to secure a life of dignity, unmarred by discrimination on the basis of gender or religion.
She therefore seeks a writ or order or direction declaring the practices of talaq-e-bidat (instantaneous triple-talaq), nikah halala (bar against remarriage with divorced husband without an intervening marriage with another man), and polygamy under Muslim personal laws as illegal, unconstitutional, and violative of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
She said this Court has already taken the view that gender discrimination against Muslim women needs to be examined and has, inter alia, observed that laws dealing with marriage and succession are not a part of religion, the law has to change with time, and international covenants and treaties could be referred to examine validity and reasonableness of a provision.
The practices under challenge, which practically treat women like chattel belonging to men, are neither harmonious with the modern principles of human rights and gender equality (as enshrined in the Constitution as well as various international treaties and covenants), nor an integral part of Islamic faith.
Various noted scholars have also expressed the view that talaq-e-bidat has no foundation in the Holy Quran. In fact, many Islamic nations, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iraq, have banned or restricted such practices, while they continue to vex not only Indian Muslim women like the Petitioner but also the society at large, notwithstanding that the Muslim community of India has itself been clamouring for reform and ban of oppressive practices that have no basis in Islam or the Holy Quran.
The Petitioner has been divorced by her husband as her family was unable to meet the demands for additional dowry. The divorce was by way of triple-talaq (talaq-e-bidat) which was confirmed by a divorce, she said and prayed for quashing the provision.