The Supreme Court banned a controversial Islamic practice of instant divorce as unconstitutional and arbitrary on Tuesday, 22nd August 2017. in a split verdict, three of the five all-male judges said the practice of saying “talaq’ or divorce, three times in a go (sometimes even over WhatsApp and email) violated women’s right to equality and also was not integral to Islam.

The rebellious note came from Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer, who contended instant talaq should be suspended. The government asked to bring a law to regulate the practice within six months.

Justice Kurian Joseph, who was part of the majority view said, “What is bad in theology is bad in law as well.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP wanted the practiced crushed against some Muslim groups who contended the state had no right to interfere in religious matters. Tuesday’s verdict showcases the BJP who stand on gender justice as well as accusations of Muslim groups that it was supporting the issue only to malign Islam.

“This is a historic day for Muslim women. No Muslim women will have to go through the harassment that I suffered,” Shayara Bano, a 35-year-old divorced Muslim woman whose petition helped end instant talaq two years ago, told Hindustan Times.

“I am happy that my 11-year-old daughter will not have to face such regressive practice when she grows up.”

The Congress called it “a progressive, secular judgment for equal rights of Muslim women in India”.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a non-governmental body that lobbies for the application of Islamic civil laws and opposes any ban on triple talaq, also welcomed the verdict, saying it “accords protection to Muslim personal laws”.

“As far as talaq-e-biddat is concerned we had already submitted to the court that the practice, though has basis in religious texts and belief, is not the best way of pronouncing talaq,” the board said in a statement.

“The Supreme Court verdict cannot be misused by the government to try to interfere with personal laws through legislation”.

At the end of the day, the fight is not political for the women fighting the case. It is about correct equality.

“My creator cannot create me in a way that I am subservient to another human being. My creator cannot make me secondary to a man just because I’m a woman,” said BMMA (Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan) co-founder Noorjehan in January.
“That gave me strength to question patriarchal attitudes. I’m equal to anybody in this world.”

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