“The practice of triple talaq practically treats women like chattel”, said Shayara Bano while Revealing her own experience in the petition that claims the mode of divorce be declared unconstitutional, taking serious node on the petition the Supreme Court on Monday decided to study the legality of triple talaq.
Though there is a strong opposition from influential Islamic bodies which are against judicial scrutiny of Muslim personal law practices, -the decision has been taken by Apex court undertaking the need to protect dignity of Muslim women.
Uttarakhand-based Shayara Bano, who was divorced through triple talaq after 13 years of marriage, said in her plea that “such discrimination and inequality expressed in the form of unilateral triple talaq is abominable.”
“Muslim women have been given talaq over Skype, Facebook and even text messages. There is no protection against such arbitrary divorce. They have their hands tied while the guillotine of divorce dangles perpetually ready to drop at the whims of their husbands who enjoy undisputed power,” Shayara Bano’s petition said.
Her petition was heard on Monday along with the suo motu proceedings initiated by the Supreme court. Shayara’s counsel Amit Singh Chadha said before a bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice U U Lalit that last year, a high-level committee appointed by the UPA government had submitted a report to the ministry of women and child development on the subject ‘Women and the law: An assessment of family laws focusing on marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance and succession’.
The committee recommended a ban on various practices that are purportedly Islamic but require some reformations, including talaq-e-bidat (unilateral triple talaq) and polygamy, he said.
The bench asked additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta to file the Centre’s response on Shayara’s petition along with a copy of the report within six weeks. It also sought response from National Commission for Women’s counsel Aparna Bhat. Interestingly, the court also asked Shayara’s ex-husband to file response.
The court’s decision suggests its inclination towards examining the legality of triple talaq instead of facing strong opposition from All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Jamiat-e-Ulema. Both had said Muslim personal law was Quran-based and not enacted by the legislature and hence was beyond the ambit of judicial scrutiny.
Shayara also challenged the practice of polygamy and said it was as evil a practice as the banned Sati system. “Religious officers and priests like imams and maulvis who propagate, support and authorise practices like triple talaq and polygamy are grossly misusing their position, influence and power to subject Muslim women to such gross practices which treat them as chattels, thereby violating their right to equality, right to life and right to profess religion,” her petition said.
“The practice of triple talaq practically treats women like chattel… many Islamic nations including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iraq have banned or restricted such practice but it continues to vex Indian society in general and Muslim women like the petitioner in particular,” Shayara said.