On 23 August 1985, Arif Mohd. Khan, former Minister of State for Home Affairs during the reign of Rajiv Gandhi, conveyed a zealous perspective in Lok Sabha, defending the then Supreme Court judgment in the case of Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum. It was in the milieu of a private member bill that was moved in the Lok Sabha by G. M. Banatwala (MP), seeking to exempt Muslims from the purview of Section 125 of CrPC, an exemption which was struck down and nullified by the apex court in the Shah Bano case. Three decades later, the issue resurfaced in the name of triple talaq and Uniform Civil Code (UCC).
What is triple talaq?
Under Muslim personal laws, a Muslim man has been bestowed upon the absolute power of instant divorce by repeating ‘talaq’ thrice before his wife.
Violation of Right to Equality under the Constitution of India
On March 30, the Supreme Court observed that practices of ‘triple talaq’, ‘nikah halal’ and polygamy amongst Muslims were crucial issues involving “sentiments” and a Constitution bench would hear the pleas challenging these from May 11. Before the hearing, the Centre filed written submission which enunciated as follows:
- Whether under a secular Constitution, women, merely because of their religious identity, could be relegated to a significantly more vulnerable status than their counterparts who profess any other faith such as Hindus, Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, etc.
- The conferment of a social status based on patriarchal values or one that is at the mercy of menfolk is incompatible with the letter and spirit of Articles 14 and 15;
- The right of a woman to human dignity, social esteem, and self-worth are vital facets of her Right to Life under Article 21;
- Right to Equality takes within its fold, equality of status and the gender equality, gender equity and gender justice are values intrinsically entwined in the guarantee of equality under Article 14.
A petition against triple talaq was started by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MSM), an offshoot organization of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) wherein more than 1 million people have signed such petition. Moreover, the abolition of triple talaq has been supported by All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) but opposed by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB).