Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 Aug 2017 12:20:53

THE majority verdict of the Supreme Court, striking down triple talaq as violative of Constitution and arbitrary, has righted the centuries old wrong heaped on hapless Muslim women. The historic verdict, though may not be palatable to some sections of the Muslim community, is a huge step towards restoring the dignity and self-respect of Muslim women who have been fighting for restoration of their constitutional rights for decades.

The practice which was perpetuated by a few Muslim leaders had also no sanction in Islam. The fact that some of the Muslim bodies have welcomed the decision of the apex court shows that only a few sections in the community had been insisting on the perpetuation of this patently arbitrary practice which gravely impinged upon the freedom of the women of the community. 

While the majority verdict, delivered by Justices Kurian Joseph, U.U. Lalit and R. F. Nariman, struck down the practice of tripple talaq as unconstitutional and void, the minority judgement of Chief Justice J. S. Khehar and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer, while keeping triple talaq in abeyance for six months, wanted the political community to sink their differences and come up with a comprehensive legislation on the matter.

Otherwise, the two judges observed, if there is no consensus, the ban would continue. Thus both sides of the judicial divide on the matter agreed that there was an immediate need for a new legislation that will regulate marriage among Muslim community.

The fact that both the Congress party and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have wholeheartedly welcomed the Supreme Court’s judgement of great social significance for the Muslim community, in general, and women in particular, there is also a political unanimity in the country on this critical issue of rights of the Muslim women.

This should make it easier for the political community to arrive at a framework of a legislation that will be within the ambit of the Indian constitution and would be acceptable to the Muslim bodies and be compatible with the tenets of Sharia.

What is also of significance is that, during the course of the hearing of the petition, filed by some Muslim women seeking annulment of the practice of triple talaq, the Central Government had taken the position that it was not integral to Islam, nor was it a “majority” or “minority” issue. It is a tussle between Muslim men and deprived women. A position that the majority judgement has endorsed in its 395-page verdict.

Thus while the Government and the other political parties have shown the willingness to bring about the reform that the deprived Muslim women were craving for decades and even centuries, there is now need for reformist sections among the Muslim community to take up the challenge of building consensus in the community and accept the reality that as human beings women, too, deserve to be bestowed upon their fundamental rights that the Indian constitution guarantees to every citizen of the country.

Without doubt the verdict has paved the way for ushering in a new era in the Muslim community which will remove the spectre of uncertainty over the lives of millions of suffering women. While the Supreme Court has removed the legal hurdle through its epochal judgement, the ball is now in the court of community leaders to take further steps to offer relief to the harried women without waiting for a new legislation to be enacted.

They need to take the initiative and be proactive in guaranteeing the rights which are legitimately theirs like all other Indian women belonging to various other communities. It is an occasion that has to be welcomed and celebrated by all.