As the central government gears up to strip the legal sanctity of triple talaq among Indian Muslims, a case highlighting its misuse and absurdity has come to light from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.
40 years old Azad is reported to have divorced his wife Shabnam Bi, 5 years younger to him, in a drunken state and after beating her up. The wife’s fault was that she had got angry after police came to their house following a complaint of mobile theft against her husband.
“After they (policemen) left, I got angry at my husband for stealing the mobile. He then started physically assaulting me. When my eldest son, Mustaq, intervened, Azad assaulted him too. He abused my three other kids. He then gave me triple talaq and threw us out of the house,” Shabnam is quoted as saying by the Times of India.
Shabnam’s relatives claim that Azad had been beating her for almost twenty years, ever since they got married. But things got out of hand this time as he threw her out of house, threatened to kill her, and gave talaq to her.
Since Azad was in drunken state when he gave talaq on that fateful night, Shabnam’s family consulted local Islamic clerics to ascertain the validity of the divorce. Clerics reportedly told them that if Azad remembered giving divorce to Shabnam in the morning, presumably when he should be sober, the divorce is “legal”.
As a result, Shabnam has accepted this divorce – which is a matter of civil law codes – but she showed courage and has filed a police complaint against her former husband under criminal law code for beating her up and threatening to kill her.
Following her complaint, police arrested Azad but released him later after he undertook in writing that he will not indulge in violence against his former wife and children.
This is not for the first time when talaq given under the influence of alcohol has been deemed valid and legal by Indian clerics. Earlier seminaries like Darul Uloom and Deoband had declared such divorces valid. Recently, many of these seminaries – incidentally some based in Bareilly – termed the government’s move to abolish triple talaq as “anti-Islamic”.