New Delhi (PTI): Leaders across the political spectrum, social activists and top jurists on Tuesday hailed as a victory of “gender equality” and a “giant step” for women the landmark Supreme Court verdict banning the practice of instant divorce among Muslims.
While Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer were in favour of putting on hold for six months the practice of triple talaq and asking the government to come out with a law in this regard, justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman and U U Lalit held it as violative of the Constitution.
The majority verdict said any practice including triple talaq which is against the tenets of Quran is unacceptable.
The three judges also said the practice of divorce through triple talaq is manifestly arbitrary and violative of the Constitution and must be struck down.
The minority verdict by CJI Khehar and Justice Nazeer, which favoured keeping on hold the practise of triple talaq for six months, asked the political parties to set aside their differences and help the Centre in coming out with a legislation.
The judges in the minority verdict said that if the Centre does not bring a law within six months, then its injunction on triple talaq will continue.
As reactions from across the country poured in welcoming the judgement declaring triple talaq, a form of divorce under Islam which allows men to dissolve marriages instantly, unconstitutional, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah called it “historic”. The judgement grants equality to Muslim women and is a “powerful measure” for women empowerment, Modi said.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) for its part said it will chalk out its future course of action at its working committee meeting in Bhopal on September 10 while Maulana Mohammed Shafique Qasmi, the Imam of Nakhoda Masjid in Kolkata, said the AIMPLB and experts of Sharia law should be consulted before formulating a new law.
“Muslim Law is our own personal law and it has nothing to do with any other community. It should be left to us to decide on it,” Zafaryab Jilani, a member of the working committee of the board, told PTI in Lucknow.
BJP chief Amit Shah said the verdict marked the beginning of a new epoch of equality and self-respect for Muslim women in the country.
Muslim women, who had knocked the doors of the Supreme Court opposing triple talaq, were elated at the verdict, saying they have emerged “victorious” and now feel protected.
However, some women petitioners opined that the victory in its true sense would be achieved once a law comes into force, making the practice punishable.
Farah Faiz, Zakia Suman, Noorjehan Niaz and the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) described the verdict as a “moment of big victory,” “big relief” and “half the battle won.”
“The court has given a direction to the government to frame a law. We have won half the battle. We will be victorious in the true sense only once the law is framed so as to make this practice punishable. There is no remedy for women against the practice till a law is framed,” said Faiz, who is also the President of Rashtrawadi Muslim Mahila Sangh.
But the government virtually ruled out the need for a new law on triple talaq, indicating that existing laws, including the one dealing with domestic violence, were sufficient.
“The government will consider the issue in a structured manner. A prima facie reading of the judgement makes it clear that the majority (of the five member bench) has held it (the practice of instant triple talaq) as unconstitutional and illegal,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Finance and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said the verdict is the law of the land now and a great victory for those who believe that personal laws must be progressive.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi welcomed the verdict and congratulated the women who fought for justice.
Chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the verdict was an “affirmation of women’s rights” and would give them relief from discrimination.
Union Minister of Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi hailed the judgement as a “giant step” for women, adding that it’s about time that women were given the right to equality.
Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore tweeted that it was a “huge step forward” for women’s rights.
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “We should not adopt a rigid attitude, but choose a reformist approach towards social evil.”
Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, blamed the AIMPLB over the triple talaq issue, saying it should have acted in a way to avoid the matter reaching the Supreme Court and find a solution to the contentious issue.
Eminent jurist Soli Sorabjee said the verdict was progressive, protecting the rights of the women, and that now no Muslim man can divorce his wife through the controversial divorce practice.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said nobody should see the verdict through the “prism of religion”.
In Mumbai, social activists from the Muslim community described the verdict as “one of the best reforms” in the country after independence
“I am elated to hear about this historical judgement which is not only for the Muslim women, but is one of the best reforms in India after independence,” said Zakia Soman, the co-founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which is also one of the petitioners in the triple talaq case
The All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board and All India Shia Personal Law Board described the verdict as a victory of Islam and Muslim women in the country.