In Response to the Indian Supreme Court’s Recent Decision on Triple Ṭalāq: A Legislative Proposal

The Indian Supreme Court’s decision on triple ṭalāq declared it unconstitutional, and gave the legislature six months to decide on appropriate reform. Pakistan editor Zubair Abbasi responds to the decision and outlines considerations the legislature should address.

“According to media reports, triple ṭalāq (instant, irrevocable divorce initiated by a husband in some versions of Islamic law) epitomizes the misogyny of Indian Muslim men whose wives live under constant fear of being thrown out of their matrimonial homes after divorce. The Arabic expression for divorce— ṭalāq—has become a word that ‘destroys lives’ of married Muslim women. Because Indian law-makers failed to stamp out the negative consequences of triple ṭalāq upon Muslim women through legislative reform, all hopes were placed upon the judges of the Indian Supreme Court to salvage the rights of hapless Muslim women.

Over the past fifty years, various Indian judges, including many Muslims, have tried to subdue the “monstrosity” of triple ṭalāq (Mohammed Haneefa v Pathummal Beevi 1972 KLT 514, per Justice Khalid). Indian Supreme Court judges have laid down the principle that a Muslim husband must have a “reasonable cause” to divorce his wife. Additionally, such divorce must also be preceded by reconciliation efforts by two arbiters, one from the side of each spouse, and must also be properly evidenced in the form of a formal declaration by the husband. (See Shamim Ara v State of UP AIR 2002 SC 3551Iqbal Bano v State of UP AIR 2007 SC 2215).”

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