On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court, in a landmark 3-2 verdict, “set aside” the practice of instant triple talaq, following a clutch of petitions filed by Muslim women. The women behind the petitions welcomed the passage of the Bill on Tuesday.
“It is a happy moment for not just me but for Muslim society as a whole. We have been freed of an evil custom,” said Shayara Bano (38), the first petitioner in the case. “Generations of women have suffered due to instant triple talaq. They have been thrown out of their house overnight and made to go through hell. Why is everyone still concerned about the men and not about the women,” she said.
She said a Bill was necessary since, even after the Supreme Court’s order, the practice of instant triple talaq continued. “There were so many cases despite the SC order. There was no fear among people. This law will instill that fear,” said Bano, who lives in Kashipur in Uttarakhand.
Bano, who was given triple talaq in 2015, said that while she has won the larger cause, she is still waging her personal battle for rights to see her two children more often and for maintenance from her husband. “My husband has remarried now. He has turned my son and daughter, now teenagers, against me. The only time I get to see them is when they are brought to the Kashipur family court once in three months,” she said.
“This has been long overdue. It has come late but, nevertheless, it is a welcome development. However, a comprehensive reform in Muslim personal law is called for. But even one step is welcome,” said Zakia Soman (52) of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), a vociferous advocate of the abolition of triple talaq.
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BMMA’s petition was suo motu turned into a PIL by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court before Shayara Bano’s case against instant triple talaq was filed. That petition eventually became one of six.
“This is great news… My life has been ruined, but no other woman’s life will be ruined now… They will not have to undergo the hardship that I faced… The law is on our side now,” said Ishrat Jehan (32).
“After giving me talaq over the phone, my husband abandoned me. My children were taken away. When I filed a petition in the Supreme Court, a section of my neighbours turned against me. Even now, they threaten to throw me out of my house and the neighbourhood. My battle is still going on,” said Jehan, who lives in Howrah.
“The law will give relief to thousands of women. It is historic,” said Jehan, who joined the BJP in January 2018.
Jehan got married in 2001, when she was just 14. In April 2015, her husband called her up from Dubai and said talaq thrice. He later remarried.
“My life is still where it was five years ago, when I was asked to leave my husband’s house,” said Gulshan Parveen (33), who approached Shayara Bano’s lawyers in 2015, after her husband sent her a talaqnama. Her husband remarried, and Gulshan moved back to Delhi from Uttar Pradesh. She has been since struggling to make ends meet for herself and her five-year-old son.
“I have no job since all my documents are still with my former in-laws. The Supreme Court case is long over but I am fighting two separate cases in the lower courts, including one of domestic violence. The monthly maintenance amount I have been awarded is a mere Rs 6,000, which is barely enough to even cover my child’s fees,” she said.
She feels that the law is much needed for the sake of the “dignity of Muslim women”. “The government has only outlawed talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq). Men still have the upper hand and can pronounce talaq to their wives and unilaterally divorce them over a period of three months (talaq-e-ahsan). The power still vests with the man,” she said.
“I am very happy today… it’s a historic win for us. We cannot change whatever happened to me, but we now have a way to stop this practice which has been going on for centuries,” said Aafreen Rehman (28) from Jaipur. She said the provision of jail term would “scare the men” and make them think twice about giving triple talaq.
In January 2016, Rehman was given triple talaq by her husband, in a letter sent through speed post. She later approached the Supreme Court.