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Supreme Court Rules Triple Talaq Unconstitutional; About 80% Of Divorced Indian Muslims Are Women

Alison Saldanha & Chaitanya Mallapur,
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The Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict on August 22, 2017, struck down the practice of triple talaq. A constitutional bench of five judges, belonging to different faiths — Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism — ruled by a 3:2 majority that there was no constitutional protection for triple talaq.


The bench heard seven petitions filed by Muslim women challenging the 1,400-year-old practice, including by one who was divorced on WhatsApp. In India, for every divorced Muslim man, there are four divorced Muslim women, IndiaSpend reported on October 15, 2016, analysing Census 2011 data.


Arguing that Triple Talaq is discriminatory and arbitrary, Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and U U Lalit struck down the practice in their judgement which went on to form the majority verdict.


“Triple Talaq, is within the meaning of the expression “laws in force” in Article 13(1) and must be struck down as being void,” the two judges ruled.


Article 13 (1) mandates that all laws in the country existing prior to the Constitution that came into effect in 1950, found to be inconsistent with the fundamental rights prescribed therein, are to be treated as void.


Heading the SC bench, chief justice JS Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer differed from Justices Nariman and Lalit, on the grounds that the court cannot interfere in matters of personal laws which are a fundamental right as per the constitution.


Writing the minority judgement, CJI Khehar directed the government “to consider appropriate legislation” for triple talaq. “We hope and expect, that the contemplated legislation will also take into consideration advances in Muslim ‘personal law’ or the ‘Shariat’, as have been corrected by legislation the world over, even by theocratic Islamic States,” CJI Khehar wrote.


Justice Kurian Joseph, supporting Justices Nariman and Lalit, said he found it “extremely difficult to agree” with CJI Khehar. In his judgement, which delivered the deciding majority, Justice Joseph endorsed and reiterated the SC judgement of 2002 for a criminal appeal case (Shamim Ara vs. State of Uttar Pradesh) wherein the apex court had previously already invalidated a divorce by triple talaq.


We storified a thread of tweets put out on August 22, 2017, to give you an insight on triple talaq and divorce statistics among religions in India.








Here are some reactions to the Supreme Court ruling on triple talaq:








(Saldanha is an assistant editor and Mallapur an analyst with IndiaSpend.)


We welcome feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the right to edit responses for language and grammar.


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  1. ahmad Reply

    August 23, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    From the statistics shown above, it is clear that Hindu women (68%) and Hindu men (76%) are at the receiving end in the matter of divorce: “Among divorced Indian women, 23.3% are Muslims, 68% Hindus; Among men, Hindus account 76%, Muslims 12.7%. (3/6) #TripleTalaq”.

    But, the entire debate gives the feeling as if only Muslim women are at the receiving end and that the whole world must run to save them. Please correct your headline to highlight the correct problem.

  2. K Sheshu Babu Reply

    August 25, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    The verdict is a crucial trendsetter in women’s liberation movement.

    The cruel practice of triple talaq by mere utterance has caused many Muslim women untold sufferings. Though many other Muslim nations banned the system, it took a long battle in Indian courts to ban the practice.

    The struggle is not over yet. Male hegemony, chauvinism and severe exploitation are prevalent in many other religions, including Hinduism. Hence, this should inspire women of all religion to carry forward the struggle until they are treated equally.

  3. K SHESHU BABU Reply

    August 25, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    A welcome decision after a long struggle. Muslim women have been exploited for centuries due to this practice. This is a great relief

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