Muslim board member asked Shayara Bano to withdraw the petition of Triple Talaq. “When you are not going to gain anything from it personally, why are you maligning the community”? someone from AIMPB asked her. The AIMPLB, a non-governmental body which oversees the application of Muslim personal law, opposes any ban on triple talaq and polygamy.
Shayara Bano, a 35-year-old divorcee filed a petition on Triple Talaq issue to Supreme Court. The triple talaq is a Sharia law custom that allows men to end a marriage, simply by saying “talaq” – or divorce – to their wives, three times in succession.
Muslims are India’s largest minority community with a population of 155 million and their marriages and divorces are governed by the Muslim personal law, ostensibly based on the sharia.
The story of Bano, a postgraduate in Sociology, is shocking. She endured a bad marriage, an abusive husband, and physical and mental agony for over a decade. She was allegedly made to undergo as many as six abortions by her husband who forcibly administered her pills which ruined her health.
On October 10, 2015, her husband sent a letter to her parents’ home where she was staying for almost a year. Inscribed on that piece of paper were three words: “Talaq, Talaq, Talaq”.
The apex court is hearing a lawsuit seeking a ban on three specific practices permitted under Muslim personal law: triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala (a woman wishing to wed a man from whom she is divorced must first marry someone else).
While defending the validity of triple talaq before the apex court, the AIMPLB took the ground that if the practice is discontinued, a man could even murder or burn his wife alive to get rid of her.
The board also contended that the Constitution does not touch upon personal laws and therefore, the SC cannot examine the question of constitutional validity of the practices of marriage, divorce and maintenance in Muslim personal law.
The government argued that there is no reason that women in India should be denied their constitutional rights when “Muslim countries where Islam is the state religion have undergone extensive reform” in this sphere.
“Gender equality and dignity of woman are non-negotiable, overarching constitutional values can brook no compromise,” the Centre said in its affidavit. “These rights are necessary in letter and in spirit to realise aspirations of every individual woman.”