The order comes in response to petitions from seven Muslim women who had been divorced by their husbands saying the Arabic word for ‘divorce’ three times through any medium – text, social media or spoken
India’s top court has banned the Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce their wives if they say ‘talaq’ three times.
India’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday the tradition was unconstitutional and requested the government officially put an end to triple talaq.
The bench comprised of five senior judges of different faiths deliberated for three months before issuing its order.
The order comes in response to petitions from seven Muslim women who had been divorced by their husbands saying the Arabic word for ‘divorce’ three times through any medium – text, social media or spoken.
Now, the government must amend the sections of India’s Muslim personal law that allows the practice known as triple talaq.
More than 20 Muslim countries, including neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned the practice.
But in India, the practice has continued with the protection of laws that allow Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities to follow religious law in matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance and adoption.
While most Hindu personal law has been overhauled and codified over the years, Muslim laws have been left to religious authorities and left largely untouched.
Most of the 170 million Muslims in India are Sunnis governed by Muslim Personal Law for family matters and disputes.
Those laws include allowing men to divorce their wives by simply uttering the word ‘talaq’, or divorce in Arabic, three times – and not necessarily consecutively, but at any time, and by any medium including telephone, text message or social media post.
Zakia Soman the co-founder of the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement, which was part of the legal battle to end triple talaq, said: ‘It’s a very happy day for us. It’s a historic day.
‘We, the Muslim women, are entitled to justice from the courts as well as the legislature.’
India’s Muslim Law Board had told the court that while they considered the practice wrong they opposed any court intervention and asked that the matter be left to the community to tackle.
But several progressive Muslim activists have decried the law board’s position.
Activist Feroze Mithiborwala told New Delhi television station: ‘This is the demand of ordinary Muslim women for over 70 years and it’s time for this country to hear their voices.’
The current government supports an end to the practice and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said in many public addresses that the practice oppresses Muslim women and needs to be ended.