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All talk and no action: What is happening with triple talaq?


With triple talaq through post card, Facebook, and WhatsApp, news related to the contentious custom is right out of the twilight zone.

There has been a lot of noise about triple talaq, but no concrete action has been taken.

A man in Hyderabad has been arrested after he sent a postcard with "triple talaq" to divorce his new wife. In a rare arrest linked to the practice that has been challenged in the Supreme Court by Muslim women, the police have charged the 38-year-old man with cheating his 26-year-old wife.

There were media reports of a woman in Aligarh who sat in dharna outside her marital home after her husband pronounced triple talaq and refused to let her enter the house. Married for more than five years, the woman was staying with her parents when she came to know from her neighbours that her husband gave her triple talaq. The woman’s father alleged that her in-laws started demanding more money even after he gave them Rs 10 lakh in cash. But now, her husband wants to remarry.

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Triple talaq allows Muslim men to get an instant divorce by saying the word "talaq" (or divorce) thrice. Next month, the Supreme Court will take up petitions challenging triple talaq by women who have complained of being divorced on Facebook and WhatsApp.

Many Muslim women have filed PILs in the Supreme Court challenging the provision of triple talaq and 'nikah halala', terming them regressive. These women do not receive alimony and end up as dependants of relatives or become destitute. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has opposed the PILs and filed a counter affidavit in the apex court defending Muslim personal laws and triple talaq.

The conversation between the Centre and the Supreme Court

The Centre had started off the discussion in October last year by telling the Supreme Court that the practice of triple talaq, nikah halala, and polygamy among Muslims was unconstitutional and infringed upon the fundamental rights of Muslim women. Earlier this week, the Centre again told the Supreme Court to respect the fundamental right of Muslim women to live in dignity and not without any security, unlike women of other religions in the country.

The arguments are part of the Centre’s written submissions that will be taken up by a five-judge constitution bench during the ensuing summer vacation. The bench will determine the validity of the practices.

A few days ago, Salma Ansari, wife of Vice President Hamid Ansari, also added her two cents to the issue, “Triple talaq is not an issue. There can be no ‘talaq’ (divorce) just because someone utters talaq, talaq, talaq.” She asked Muslim women to read the Quran thoroughly instead of relying on clerics.

The AIMPLB's stand

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) will do away with the practice of triple talaq in a year and a half, said Dr. Sayeed Sadiq, Vice President of the body, adding that there was no need for “government interference”.

Chief Organiser of the AIMPLB's women wing Asma Zohra made a big and unsubstantiated claim while addressing a gathering of around 20,000 women at a workshop - “We have received Rs 3.50 crore forms in favour of Shariyat and triple talaq from Muslim women in the country, and the number of women against these are very less.”

Meanwhile, in Kerala and UP

Women in Kerala who have got divorced through the Islamic tradition of triple talaq can now receive free legal aid sponsored by the state government. Kerala’s minority commission constituted a special committee under retired judge P.K. Haneefa to provide legal assistance to divorced women whose husbands invoked the Sharia law by verbally saying ‘talaq’ thrice. It also set up a toll-free helpline number (0471-2315122).

In Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said while holding a meeting with the Women and Child Development Department, "The state government will pass its inputs to the SC on triple talaq after taking views of Muslim women.” The Chief Minister directed officials to prepare a plan for collecting the views of Muslim women, and asked the minister of the department and all women ministers in his cabinet to talk to women's organisations.

Let us hope the government and the Supreme Court resolve these discussions with the best interests of Muslim women in mind, without unnecessary political controversies.

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