What is Triple Talaq?
Triple talaq also known as talaq-e-biddat, instant divorce and talaq-e-mughallazah (irrevocable divorce), is a form of Islamic divorce which has been used by Muslims in India. 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. 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.
Triple Talaq: BACKGROUND
The triple talaq bill has been a bone of contention between the Narendra Modi government and the Opposition since December 2017, when the government first tabled the legislation in the Lok Sabha. The bill followed a Supreme Court judgment in August that year.
The Supreme Court had declared the practice of instant triple talaq unconstitutional and a divorce pronounced by uttering talaq three times in one sitting void and illegal. The triple talaq bill of the previous Narendra Modi government lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha upon completion of its tenure. The Rajya Sabha had not approved the bill back then.
It was the first draft legislation that the Narendra Modi cabinet passed after being voted back to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The triple talaq bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha and passed by the house, where the government did not face much trouble for pushing the triple talaq bill in the Lok Sabha, where it enjoyed a comfortable majority.
Triple Talaq: JUDGEMENT
The government tabled the triple talaq bill on 30th July 2019 in the Rajya Sabha, where the Modi government needed strategic floor management to get the approval of the upper house of Parliament. The ruling NDA (ruling coalition) does not have a majority of its own in the Rajya Sabha. In a major political win for the Narendra Modi government, the triple talaq bill jumped Rajya Sabha hurdle. Put to vote after a lengthy debate, the triple talaq bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha with 99 supports versus 84 votes. It is celebrated as a big day for Indian Muslim women, a step ahead for secular, developed and modern India.
The case was called Shayara Bano v. Union of India & Others. The bench that heard the controversial Triple talaq case in 2017 was made up of multifaith members. The five judges from five different communities are Chief Justice JS Khehar, a Sikh, Justices Kurian Joseph a Christian, RF Nariman a Parsi, UU Lalit a Hindu and Abdul Nazeer a Muslim.
The Supreme Court has to examine whether Triple talaq has the protection of the constitution—if this practice is safeguarded by Article 25(1) in the constitution that guarantees all the fundamental right to “profess, practice and propagate religion”.
The Court wants to establish whether or not Triple talaq is an essential feature of Islamic belief and practice. Two judges upheld validity of Instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat), the three other judges held that it was unconstitutional, thus barring the practice by 3–2 majority.