Supreme Court examining if triple talaq is fundamental to Islam

As historic hearing begins, apex court says it may not debate polygamy

Advocate Farah Faiz, one of the petitioners, outside the Supreme Court yesterday prior to the hearing. Pic/PTI
Advocate Farah Faiz, one of the petitioners, outside the Supreme Court yesterday prior to the hearing. Pic/PTI

The Supreme Court yesterday commenced its historic hearing on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the practice of triple talaq and nikah halala among Muslims, saying it would first determine whether the practice is fundamental to Islam.

A five-judge constitution bench, headed by CJI JS Khehar, however, made it clear that the issue of polygamy among Muslims may not be deliberated upon as it is not connected with triple talaq.

"We will deal with the issue as to whether triple talaq is sacramental and whether it can be enforced as a fundamental right," said the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, RF Nariman, UU Lalit and Abdul Nazeer.

The apex court also said if it came to the conclusion that triple talaq is fundamental to religion, then it will not go into the question of its constitutional validity. It said it will also deal with the aspect of whether triple talaq formed part of the enforceable fundamental right to practice religion under the Constitution.

Senior advocate Amit Singh Chadha, appearing for Saira Bano, one of the petitioners in the case, initiated the arguments against triple talaq, saying it was not fundamental to Islam and, hence, can be done away with. He also referred to the practices in the neighbouring Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh to buttress his plea that triple talaq is un-Islamic.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for a petitioner, said in case of divorces being granted through extra-judicial mechanism, there should be a "judicial oversight" to deal with the consequences.

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who is assisting the court in his personal capacity, termed triple talaq as a "non-issue", saying it is not considered complete without conciliation efforts between husband and wife. Counsel for All India Muslim Personal Law Board Kapil Sibal concurred with Khurshid.

Community reacts

Maulana Yasoob Abbas,
All India Shia Personal Law Board spokesperson
'Many Muslim countries have already put an end to the practice… In the Shia community, there has been no place for triple talaq in one go'

Shaista Amber,
All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board president
'Today is a day of hope of betterment and justice for Muslim women. At least we now feel that the betterment of Muslims has started'

Navaid Hamid,
All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat president
'It is a religious issue. The Supreme Court should give the Muslim community more time to evolve a strategy and resolve this contentious issue'

Maulana Kazmi,
Cleric from Lucknow
'The All India Muslim Personal Law Board clearly says that triple talaq is a part of Islam. These petitions are politically motivated'

07 No. of petitions on the issue the SC is hearing

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