The Supreme Court announced its verdict on the controversial issue of instant triple talaq on Tuesday, terming the practice as “void” and “illegal”. The court struck down the practice, declaring it as “unconstitutional” via a split decision by 3:2 and said the practice is against the basic tenets of Quran. The five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar reserved its judgment on May 18th, after six days of marathon hearing starting from May 11. During the hearing, the court deliberated whether the practice of triple talaq is fundamental to religion among Muslims.
Here is a timeline of events leading up to triple talaq hearing:
February 5, 2016: The Supreme Court seeks assistance from the then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of “triple talaq”, “nikah halala” and “polygamy”. A month later, on March 28, the apex court asked the Centre to file a copy of report of a high-level panel on “Women and the law: An assessment of family laws with focus on laws relating to marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance and succession”.
June 29, 2016: The apex court said the practice of “triple talaq” among Muslims will be tested on the “touchstone of constitutional framework”.
October 7, 2016: For the first time in India’s constitutional history, the Centre opposed the practice of triple talaq in the Supreme Court and said there is a need to re-look at these practices on grounds of gender equality and secularism.
February 16, 2017: The Supreme Court announced the setting up of a five-judge constitution bench, which would be set up to hear and deliberate on the challenges against the practice of ‘triple talaq, nikah halala’ and polygamy. The court’s announcement came two days after it allowed several interlocutory pleas filed by Muslim women to be tagged along with the main issue.
March – April 2017: With the issue gaining political mileage, reactions poured out on the issue from all corners. On March 27, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court that the issue of Triple Talaq falls outside the judiciary’s realm. Two weeks later, on April 11, the Centre told the Supreme Court the practices in question deny Muslim women the fundamental rights which were guaranteed to them by the Indian constitution. With matter getting heated up, BSP supremo Mayawati, on 14 April, said the Supreme Court should ensure it provides justice to Muslim women. Two days later, PM Narendra Modi himself raised the issue and said justice will be given to Muslim women. AIMPLB, on the same day, decided to issue a code of conduct, and warned that those divorcing their wives without Sharia law will face social boycott. Two days later, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath called out ministers who were silent on the issue and said that those ministers are equally responsible as those practicing triple talaq. In his speech, he compared the Muslim practice of divorce with episode of disrobing of Draupadi in Mahabharata. The next day, Mukul Rohatgi called for equality of women. On 29th April, the Opposition raised accusations that PM Modi is politicising the issue for electoral mileage. BJP Minister Swami Prasad Maurya said Muslim men use the practice to satisfy “lust”.
April 21, 2017: The Delhi High Court dismissed a plea seeking to end the practice of triple talaq on Hindu women married to Muslim men.
May 3, 2017: Former Union Minister and senior advocate Salman Khurshid was allowed as amicus curiae in hearing of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq.
May 11, 2017 – May 17, 2017: The Supreme Court announced it will determine during the hearing that whether the practice of triple talaq is fundamental to religion for Muslims. The hearing, in the apex court began, with a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar. During the hearing, the practice of triple talaq was described as “worst” and “not desirable” form of dissolution of marriage. On May 15, Rohatgi told Supreme Court that Centre will work toward bringing a new law to regulate marriage and divorce among Muslims, in case all forms of triple talaq are declared as unconstitutional. On 16 May, AIMPLB told the court that the practice is a matter of faith and cannot be questioned by constitutional morality. On 17 May, the apex court asked AIMPLB, if the women can be given the option of saying “no” to triple talaq.
May 18, 2017: The Supreme Court reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the practice of instant triple talaq among Muslims.
August 22, 2017: Supreme Court, after reading separate judgments, ruled in 3:2 majority triple talaq is void and illegal. The apex court struck down the practice and asked Centre to formulate a law on triple talaq.