The Supreme Court today struck down the practice of instant triple talaq by calling it arbitrary and against the tenets of Islam. This incidentally was achieved by 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.
This statement by the CJI (who spoke first) sent our media on a wild goose chase and it concluded that the CJI’s opinion would be final and proclaimed that the court had upheld the draconian practice:
Breaking: Supreme Court upholds #TripleTalaq practice, asks Union Government to bring legislation
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) August 22, 2017
This as revealed moments later was inaccurate and the final verdict was to be based on what the total of 5 judges in the bench thought. The 3 judges in the panel named Kurian Joseph, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Uday Umesh Lalit disagreed with the CJI by stating that triple talaq was against the Quran which meant that a constitutional protection of the practice was not permissible.
This supposed flipflop by the media amused many:
— Krishna (@Atheist_Krishna) August 22, 2017
When even those in the law business takes time understand the verdict pic.twitter.com/AFDQ408wGq
— Ravi Kiran (@ravithinkz) August 22, 2017
Even journalists decided to take potshots:
Ok the media reporting on this SC verdict on #tripletalaq is woefully chaotic and incorrect. Withholding all comment till clarity.
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) August 22, 2017
The verdict delivered by the Supreme Court was a whopping 395 page long [PDF] and it might be entirely possible that the media is still misinterpreting it due to most probably not having gone through the whole thing yet.
Some people were also not happy about the split verdict and questioned as to why the court could not provide a unilateral verdict on the issue:
Worse than this half-hearted verdict is that 2 men, at the top of the judiciary of world’s largest democracy, feel #TripleTalaq should stay.
— The-Lying-Lama (@KyaUkhaadLega) August 22, 2017
Interfare with Temple Administration, Jallikatu, Dahi Handi etc, but on Minority women’s rights, SC gives mixed judgment on #TripleTalaq
— Ishkaran S. Bhandari (@Ish_Bhandari) August 22, 2017
A brief summary of Justice Joseph’s verdict, who was among the majority, stated that triple talaq was against the basic tenets of Quran and violated Sharia. The verdict further stated that it also wasn’t an integral part of the religion. The purpose of 1937 Muslim personal law act was to declare Shariat as the only law governing Muslims, thus as triple talaq is bad in Shariat it is also bad in law.
This modus operandi of the court to base its judgement on the religious doctrines and laws did alarm a few people but it may still not be the main issue here. Based on whatever information the media put out in the public domain, various commentators gave a lukewarm response to the verdict.
The major issue behind such a response was, that since just the practice of talaq-e-bidat (Instant triple talaq in one go) was banned, it may not result in better conditions for the Muslim women. The practice of giving proper triple talaq where a husband gives his wife talaq over a period of 3 months will still remain perfectly legal. So instead of getting instantly divorced, women would get divorced over months and may not be able to overtly challenge it.
Nonetheless, the verdict should be welcomed as a first step in the right direction.