India Ends Instant Divorce

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Indian Muslim women visit the Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi on August 22, 2017. (Photo: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
Indian Muslim women visit the Jama Masjid mosque in New Delhi on August 22, 2017. (Photo: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)


India’s Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling prohibiting the practice of instant “triple talaq” divorces as “unconstitutional.”

Triple talaq refers to a form of Islamic divorce in which the husband can divorce his wife simply by saying the word “talaq” (divorce) three times. Wives have been left destitute after their husbands divorced them using this method, which was taking place even via Skype and WhatsApp.

The decision was 3-2 and judges considered the practice “arbitrary.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the decision as “historic,” saying it “grants equality to Muslim women and is a powerful measure for women[‘s] empowerment.”

In India, Muslim marriages are regulated according to Muslim Personal Law which empowers sharia courts to determine marriage cases, as well as matters of child custody, inheritance and adoption.

The decision will only impact triple talaq divorce cases and will not change the way in which Muslim marriages are regulated in general.

“Court judgments do not bring about social reforms,” Faizan Mustafa, the vice-chancellor of NALSAR University of Law in Hyderabad and a leading expert on constitutional law told Al Jazeera. “Now the only thing is if a Muslim male does triple talaq and if the wife goes to the court, the court won’t recognise the divorce. Now, will the girl go back [into the marriage]?”

Women’s rights campaigners in India are hailing the decision as a victory. They also want to go further and see a law implemented against the practice.

“It is a monumental, landmark verdict and the Supreme Court could not give more to the Muslim women,” Advocate Chandra Rajan of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board told the Times of India. “The court has protected every Muslim woman. After six months, a law will be in place and we are very happy about it.”


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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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