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If the Centre fails to draft the rules and have a legislation passed by Parliament within the set time frame, then the injunction on ‘triple talaq’ will continue since a majority of the five-judge Bench of the Apex Court has ruled the practice as “arbitrary and unconstitutional”.

At 10.55 AM, on Tuesday, the abominable and ‘unislamic’ practice of instant triple talaq was deemed as “manifestly arbitrary and unconstitutional” in a majority verdict of a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court.

While three judges ruled in favour of an instant ban on the practice, two others – including Chief Justice of India JS Khehar – directed the Centre to draft rules on the validity of triple talaq and have a legislation passed by Parliament within six months.

However, since the Supreme Court has passed a majority verdict (in the opinion of Justices Kurien Joseph, Rohinton Nariman and UU Lalit) calling triple talaq or Talaq-ul-Biddat “unconstitutional”, should the Parliament fail to legislate on the matter within the 6-month timeframe, the ban on instant triple talaq will continue.

In a tersely worded opinion, Justices Nariman and Lalit said: “it is clear that this form of talas (Talaq-ul-Biddat) is manifestly arbitrary in the sense that the marital tie can be broken capriciously and whimsically by a Muslim man without any attempt at reconciliation…this form of talaq must, therefore, be held to be violative of the fundamental right contained under Article 14 of the Constitution… and must be struck down as being void.”

The historic verdict – its lure only slightly diminished because it wasn’t unanimous as Chief Justice Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer thought it better to lob the controversial ball in the court of the government and Parliament – comes as a major relief to lakhs of Muslim women across India whose lives have been ruined due to the practice of triple talaq.

Shayara Banu, a key petitioner in the case, expectedly welcomed the judgement saying it was “a historic day for Muslim women and the government too should now bear the opinion of the three judges (who termed triple talaq as unconstitutional) in mind while framing an appropriate legislation that reaffirms the invalidity of the practice.”

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) which had opposed both, a judicial intervention in what it called an “internal matter of the Muslim community” and any effort to ban triple talaq, has now been left with little option for a recourse. However, the legal committee of the AIMPLB will now study the verdict and give its opinion on it to the Board’s executive committee which will then discuss, at a meeting scheduled for September 10 in Bhopal, “the future course of action” available to it.

What needs to be born in mind, however, is that the order of the Supreme Court can be applied only to ban the practice of instant triple talaq or Talaq-ul-Biddat as only this was the matter under jurisdiction. The order does not state anything on banning, regulating or upholding the other form of divorce prevalent in the Islamic community – Talaq-ul-Sunnat or revocable divorce. Talaq-ul-Sunnat, which finds sanction in the Hadees/Hadith (the preachings of Prophet Mohammed), allows for a divorce to be revoked if the husband and wife reconcile their differences. Instant triple talaq, however, doesn’t find any mention in the Quran or the Hadees as has been pointed out by several Islamic scholars and legal experts during the hearing in the Supreme Court and also upheld by the three judges who termed it an “arbitrary” practice.

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