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Triple Talaq Bill: Victory of Gender Justice

"We had fundamentally supported this bill. We also wanted amendment for the provision of support to Muslim women. Our opposition was on two-three issues. The Supreme Court had struck down triple talaq, you had also struck down triple talaq through law, then what is the need to criminalize an imaginary thing,"

Women who raised their voice against Triple Talaq first: Shayara Bano from Uttarakhand first approached the apex court after her husband sent her a letter with talaq written thrice and left her. Petitions of four other women were tagged with Ms Bano’s petition. It was Shayara Bano who challenged the controversial practice before India’s top court. Shayara, who holds a degree in MA Sociology, was divorced by her husband, Rizwan Ahmed, by pronouncing the word talaq thrice through a letter sent to her on October 15, 2015 when she was visiting her parents’ house.Shayara, who hails from Uttarakhand’s Hempur Daya in Kashipur, filed a petition against triple talaq, halala and polygamy in the Supreme Court on February 23, 2016.
The petitioners asked for section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, [A to be scrapped, describing it as being against Article 14 of the Constitution (equality before the law). The judgment came two years after. The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) is the sixth petitioner in the case.
On 13th May 2017, during the hearings before its final judgment, the Supreme Court described instant triple talaq as the “worst form of marriage dissolution”. It noted that the custom is banned in the Muslim-majority countries of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan. On 8th December 2016, the Allahabad High Court observed in a ruling that the practice of instant triple talaq was unconstitutional and violated the rights of Muslim women.
Gulshan Parveen of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh filed a petition in Supreme Court asking for abolishing triple talaq. In 2015, she alleged her husband sent her a talaqnama on a Rs 10 stamp paper when she was at her parents’ home. The English literature postgraduate said she was subjected to domestic violence by him for dowry for over two years.
Afreen Rehman got married in 2014 after finding a match through a matrimonial portal. However, after a couple of months, she alleged, her in-laws started mentally harassing her for dowry. Later, they even started beating her and in September 2015 they asked her to leave their house, she alleged. She went back to her parents’ home and received a letter via speed post announcing talaq in January 2016.

Ishrat Jahan, a resident of Howrah in West Bengal, was divorced by her husband Murtaza through a phone call from Dubai.In April 2015, her husband of 15 years, Murtaza, called and uttered the talaq word thrice before hanging up. Murtaza had allegedly married another woman and took away their four children with him.
Atiya Sabri, a resident of Sahranpur in Western Uttar Pradesh is the last petitioner in the case. Her husband Wajid Ali – they were married in 2012 — sent her a piece of paper announcing he was divorcing her. It was sent to her brother’s office in November 2015.
The practice of triple talaq faced opposition from Muslim women, some of whom filed a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court against the practice, terming it “regressive”.
In March 2017, over 1 million Indian Muslims, a majority of whom were women, signed a petition to end instant triple talaq. The petition was started by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, an Islamic organisation affiliated to the right wing Hindu nationalist organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The petitioners against instant Triple talaq have given evidence showing how Instant Triple talaq is simply an innovation that does not have much to do with Quranic beliefs. This is supported by the interpretation of Quranic text by many Islamic scholars, historical evidence and legal precedent.
On 10 May 2017, senior cleric Maulana Syed Shahabuddin Salafi Firdausi denounced triple talaq and nikah halala, calling them un-Islamic practices and instruments to oppress women.The practice was also opposed by Hindu nationalists and Muslim liberals “Absence of consensus in Court makes it more difficult to forge consensus within communities.

What is Triple Talaq :

Triple Talaq is the process of divorce under Sharia Law (Islamic law) where a husband can divorce his wife by pronouncing ‘Talaq’ three times. This is also called oral talaq.
There are three types of divorce under Islamic law, namely, Ahsan, Hasan and Talaq-e-Biddat (triple talaq). While the former two are revocable, the last one is irrevocable. It is mainly prevalent among India’s Muslim communities that follow the Hanafi School of Islamic Law.
Triple Talaq is also known as talaq-e-biddat, instant divorce and talaq-e-mughallazah (irrevocable divorce),. It allows any Muslim man to legally divorce his wife by stating the word talaq (the Arabic word for “divorce”) three times in oral, written, or more recently, electronic form.
The use and status of triple talaq in India has been a subject of controversy and debate. Those questioning the practice have raised issues of justice, gender equality, human rights and secularism. The debate has involved the Government of India and the Supreme Court of India, and is connected to the debate about a uniform civil code (Article 44) in India.

Bill Against Triple Talaq :
On 22 August 2017, the Indian Supreme Court deemed instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddah) unconstitutional. Three of the five judges in the panel concurred that the practice of triple talaq is unconstitutional. The remaining two declared the practice to be constitutional while simultaneously asking the government to ban the practice by enacting a law.
A bill passed on 26th July 2019 after a very long discussion and opposition finally got the verdict to all women. The Government formulated a bill called The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 and introduced it in the Parliament; it was passed on 28 December 2017 by the Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian Parliament). The bill makes instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddah) in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp illegal and void, with up to three years in jail for the husband. MPs from RJD, AIMIM, BJD, INC, AIADMK, and IUML opposed the bill tabled in the Lok Sabha by law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The bill faced stiff resistance in the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian parliament). Several Opposition lawmakers called for it to be sent to a select committee for scrutiny.

The bill was finally passed by Lok Sabha on 27th December 2018 with strong support as the ruling BJP has the majority in the house of Lok Sabha of the Indian Parliament. The bill was passed by Parliament on 30th July 2019.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill got President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent on 1st August, 2019, hence has now become a law. With this assent, this bill has replaced the triple talaq ordinance promulgated in February 2019. According to the Government the bill is a step towards gender equality and justice.

Status of Triple Talaq in other countries:
1. Pakistan
It was abolished after recommendations by a 7-member commission on marriage and family laws in 1956 and framed the legislation of marriage and divorce similar to Egypt, the husband must pronounce Talaq in three successive menstrual cycles.
2. Egypt
It was the first country to reform its divorce system in 1929 according to the Quranic interpretation.
3. Tunisia
As per Tunisian Code of Personal Status 1956, it enshrine that the institution of the marriage comes under the ambit of state and judiciary which cannot allow husband unilaterally to verbal divorce his wife without explanation of reason.
4. Sri Lanka
Although, it is not Muslim majority country but some Islamic scholars consider the Srilankan Marriage and Divorce (Muslim) Act, 1951 as the ‘most ideal legislation on divorce (Triple Talaq)’. This act envisages that if husband wants separation from his wife then he has to give notice of his intention to Qazi (Muslim Judge) along with the relatives of the partners, elders and other influential Muslims of the area, for attempting the provision of rethink, reconsider and reconcile.
5. Bangladesh
The process of divorce is very simple in Bangladesh just in three steps to divorce for both Husband and Wife (When power of giving Divorce has been delegated in the Kabin) wanting separation:
i.Give Notice in writing;
ii.Face the Arbitration Board (Appeared or not don’t matter); and
iii.After expiry of 90 days take a registration certificate from a registered Nikah Registrar (Kaji).
6. Turkey
The process of Talaq in Turkey can began only if the marriage was registered at the Vital Statistics Office. Then the entire process of Talaq will did in civil court.

7. Indonesia
Every divorce can only be executed by a court decision. An agreement to divorce between the husband and wife will not be constituted as a divorce, only a court decision may constitute a divorce. It is regulated under Law No. 1 of 1974 concerning Marriage (“Marriage Law”) which also further regulated under Government Regulation No. 9 of 1975 concerning The Implementation of Law No. 1 of 1974 concerning Marriage (“Marriage Regulation”).
8. Iraq
It was the first Arab country to replace Sharia court from the government-run personal status court.
9. Afghanistan
Divorce through three pronouncements made in only one sitting is considered to be invalid.
The other countries where instant talaq is banned are Cyprus, Algeria, Malaysia, Jordon, Iran, Brunei, the UAE, Indonesia, Libya, Sudan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Kuwait.
Challenges in banning triple talaq:
Religious groups infer the banning of a traditional practice sanctified by Sharia as interfering in the religious aspects of minorities.
The courts should decide two things basically:
1.Whether personal law can be subject to the constitution or not
2.How to view the relationship between triple talaq and Muslim personal law.

Past rulings:
In the Shah Bano case in 1985, the SC granted Shah Bano, a 62-year old woman the right to alimony from her husband.
But in 1986, the government passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act which diluted the positive impact created by the Shah Bano case.
In 2001, in the Danial Latifi & Anr versus Union of India case, the SC upheld the validity of the Shah Bano judgment.

In August 2017, a five-judge bench of the SC declared the triple talaq as unconstitutional in a majority 3:2 judgment. This was the culmination of a petition filed by Shayara Bano, whose husband of 15 years had divorced her through a letter where he pronounced talaq three times, to declare the divorce as void.

The latest ruling is truly a watershed moment in women empowerment movement in India. The court has given progressive thoughts enshrined in the Constitution precedence over personal law in society.
While many Muslims, including women’s rights groups and religious leaders, supported the initiative to end “triple talaq” as they found it unconstitutional and irreligious, there was also considerable opposition to it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that an “archaic and medieval practice” has been confined to the dustbin of history and the country is rejoicing today.
“India rejoices today,” he said in a tweet, minutes after Rajya Sabha passed the bill.
PM Modi said this is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society, as he thanked all parties and MPs who supported its passage.
“An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history! Parliament abolishes triple talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!” he said.
The prime minister said this is an occasion to salute the remarkable courage of those Muslim women who have suffered great wrongs due to the practice of triple talaq and added that its abolition will contribute to women empowerment and give them the dignity they deserve. The Congress said there was no need to criminalize the practice which had already been struck down by the Supreme Court and senior party leader Raj Babbar termed the bill’s passage as a “historic mistake”.

“We had fundamentally supported this bill. We also wanted amendment for the provision of support to Muslim women. Our opposition was on two-three issues. The Supreme Court had struck down triple talaq, you had also struck down triple talaq through law, then what is the need to criminalize an imaginary thing,” asked senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.
“Triple talaq does not have any legal standpoint, and then what was the need to criminalize it? Even if the woman does not want it, her relative can get the husband arrested. Bail will be very difficult… What is the relevance for this,” he told reporters outside Parliament.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board opposed the ruling, arguing that the court had no business interfering in religious practices of a community and that the percentage of divorce in Muslims was far less than in other communities.
The biggest bone of contention was the provision in the Bill for making instant divorce a criminal offence among Muslim men. As the Muslim Women (Protection on Rights on Marriage) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 27, this provision became the principal cause of friction between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, keen to garner electoral gains from the Muslim community, and the opposition, which wanted the Bill referred to a Parliamentary committee.

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