CASE COMMENTARY ON SHAYARA BANO V. UNION OF INDIA
The Supreme Court issued a historic judgement on the constitutional legitimacy of "Talaq-e-Biddat," also known as "Triple Talaq," one of three male-initiated divorces in the Muslim community, the other two being "Talaq ahasan" and "Talaq hasan." As the name implies, this type of divorce allows a Muslim man to divorce his wife immediately by pronouncing the word "talaq" three times. The channels of communication in this case could be written, oral, or even electronic, adding to a woman's vulnerability in this arbitrary and unilateral divorce. This contentious custom, which intersects gender identity and community, has left Muslim women vulnerable to abuse and in a morbid state, especially given the socioeconomic aspect, where the majority of women are financially dependent on their spouse, and the added fear of this arbitrary divorce leaves many cases of marital abuse unreported.
FACTS OF THE CASE
In the presence of two witnesses, Rizwan Ahmad (husband) pronounced Talaq, Talaq, Talaq and delivered Talaq nama to Shayara Bano on October 10, 2015. (wife). The wife filed a petition with the Supreme Court, asking for a writ declaring the divorce void ab initio since it infringed on her fundamental rights. As a result, the constitutional legality of Triple Talaq was put into doubt before a Supreme Court Constitution bench of five judges.
Whether the practice of Triple Talaq is constitutional?
Whether the practice of Triple Talaq is an essential religious practice of Islam?
DECISION OF THE SC COURT
The Supreme Court's Constitution Bench upheld and ruled the practise of instantaneous Triple Talaq or Talaq-e-biddat to be unlawful under Article 14 read with Article 13(1) of the Indian Constitution by a 3:2 majority. The Court concluded in Shayra Bano versus UOI that the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1937 sanctioned the practise as a matter of personal law.
The Court clarified that “…an arbitrary action must involve negation of equality” and determined that, because triple talaq states that “…the marital tie can be broken capriciously with no attempt at reconciliation to save it”, this arbitrariness violates Article 14 of Constitution of India.
The Supreme Court also ruled in Shayra Bano v UOI that the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act 1937 is void because it recognises and enforces triple talaq, citing Article 13(1) of the Constitution, which states that all laws in force immediately before the commencement of the current Constitution (including the 1937 Act) are void if they are incompatible with the Constitution's fundamental rights. It stated that the practise of Talaq-e-biddat is not protected by Article 25's exception because it is not an essential component of the Islamic religion, according to the court. The court further defended its stance by claiming that, while the Hanafi School follows it, it is immoral to do so. The Quran's essential precepts are contradicted by Triple Talaq and whatever contradicts Quranis contradicts Shariat; thus, what is bad in theology cannot be good in law.
The landmark decision in Shayra Bano case is unquestionably a step toward equality, and it has provided a foundation for future personal law and social amendments. This decision in Shayara Bano v UOI also dealt with the minority in a very viable manner, which is a step toward secularism.