Shayara Bano: The woman whose fight against Instant Triple Talaq led to its abolition

Today the Supreme Court in a landmark judgement outlawed the practice of talaq-e-biddat or Instant Triple Talaq. This practice had till its abolition divided opinion by pitting various women organisations, the Modi government on one side and the All India Muslim Personal Law board on the other.

The division of opinion about this draconian practice was so severe that even the Supreme Court delivered a 3:2 split verdict with the CJI Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer opposing its abolition by calling it an age old practice and an integral part of the Muslim religion.

Now that it has finally been done away with, lets look at one of the key persons whose efforts were instrumental in the abolition of this practice.

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36 year old Shayara Bano was divorced by her husband Rizwan Ahmed by giving triple talaq via a letter 15th October 2015 when she was visiting her parents. If this wasn’t enough, her husband who is property dealer in Allahabad even took away her two kids aged 13 and 11.

These weren’t the only tortures which were heaped on Shayara who hails from Uttarakhand’s Hempur Daya in Kashipur. According to the report, she was also tormented for dowry after her marriage in 2002. She also alleged that her in-laws also forced her to undergo 6 abortions with the alleged intention of killing her.

After hearing the news about her talaq she consulted with a local cleric for help but he deemed it completely valid. He husband then decided to inflict further pain by taking away all her jewellery and also filed a case in the Allahabad High Court claiming that his wife hadn’t returned back from her in-laws. He further rubbed salt in her wound after sending a token sum of Rs 15,000. The family refused to accept it.

A local court even sent notices to her husband who remarried in 2016, to ask him as to why he was denying her access to her children but he failed to honour the summons.

This whole affair put a lot of emotional strain on Shayara and according to her parents, she suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be treated for depression. But rather than being bogged down by it all, she and her family decided to fight against the injustice.

On 26 February, 2016 she filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the practice of triple talaq, halala and polygamy. This prompted the Modi government to file a petition against triple talaq based on her petition. Her petition wanted the court to strike down those Islamic practices on the premise that they violated the Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the constitution.

Article 14 pertains to right to equality, article 15 states that there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, article 21 deals with the protection of life, personal liberty and article 25 deals with freedom of practice and propagation of religion.

Shayara’s petition wasn’t welcomed by the Islamic lawmakers and All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPLB), some clerics reportedly asked her to withdraw her petition. She also left her native place Kashipur and went on the move to avoid undue pressure on her.

Today after all the efforts by her and countless other activists she achieved a noted victory with the abolition of instant triple talaq. She was also quoted by the media welcoming court’s verdict:

Now it remains to be seen if she achieves a victory in totality with the abolition of Nikah Halala and Polygamy in the near future…


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