A Critique on Supreme Court's Verdict on Instant Triple Talaq

Different reactions to the Supreme Court verdict illustrate the proverbial incident when a group of blind persons touched an elephant, and each one of them described it according to the animal’s organ he had touched. Let me also sum up my reactions critically, but quite briefly, under the following heads.

1. ‘Talaq, talaq, talaq’ be it uttered in anger, joke, intoxication, threat, intimidation or whatsoever circumstances, and marriage becoming irrevocable, with the so-called unIslamic ‘halala’ the only option left, is declared as a violation of specific Quranic mandates as also the Indian Constitution, and therefore having no legal validity.

2. It has practical impact only to the extent that it will lose judicial recognition, which even otherwise has already been the opinion of judges for quite a long time. Outside courts, one who considers this practice as integral part of Islam will consult only 'maulvis' and follow their opinion/fatwa accordingly, should there be any such eventuality.

3. Reforms, changes or the process of eliminating evil practices emerge from within a particular society and can never be imposed from above. Total ineffectiveness of Anti-Dowry Law, Child Marriage Restraint Act, abolition of child labour and many other enactments are glaring examples in our society.

4. The present form of ‘triple divorce’ is an evil by unanimous opinion of ulama of all sects. The only difference is that some sects, like Shia and Ahle Hadith regard it inconsequential, while others like Hanafis think that once uttered, the marriage becomes irrevocable. Ironically, they too call it ‘Talaq-e Bid’at’ and interpret ‘bid’at’ as innovation in religion.

5. The matter could never have come to such a critical pass, had the All India Muslim Personal Law Board dealt with it sagaciously within this long span from Shah Bano controversy up to now. It is the saddest part of the entire episode that AIMPLB, which represents all Muslim sects, could never evolve a consensus on this crucial matter, and nor they ever even tried.

6. Though first time I have seen members of the Board showing very reasoned and balanced reactions. It is still not too late for them to come out of their tight sectarian compartments, and develop some semblance of unanimity on the most crucially contentious issues confronting the community.

The author is professor of law in a Lucknow college and heads the All India Muslim Forum