Triple Talaq Issue – UPSC GS1


  • According to a study, 92% of Muslim women in India want oral triple talaq to go.
  • National Commission of Women (NCW) : Triple talaq was a “highly misused” custom and Government should scrap it to protect the rights of Muslim women
  • The ‘triple talaq’ has been abolished in 21 Islamic theocratic countries including Pakistan.
  • The largest percentage of divorces takes place among Muslim women. It was 1.59 among Muslim men, among Muslim women, it was more than three and a half times higher – 5.63
  • SC has declared practice of triple talaq unconstitutional, illegal and void and not protected by Article 25 (Freedom of Religion).


What is triple talaq?

‘Triple Talaq’ or ‘Oral talaq’ is a procedure of divorce mentioned under the Sharia Law which is a body of the Islamic law. Under this, a husband can divorce his wife by pronouncing ‘Talaq’ thrice.


What is the issue?

  • The constitution allows Muslims, the biggest religious minority group in the country, to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code.
  • The Supreme Court has been examining how much it can interfere in Muslim laws governing family-related issues as it hears a plea to end the practice which permits Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying talaq three times.


What is the centre’s stand on this issue?

  • Centre is opposed to the Muslim practice of triple talaq.
  • It has also described this practice as “misplaced in a secular country.”
  • The centre says “gender equality and the dignity of women are not negotiable”
  • The Central government as a part of its written submissions to the Supreme Court has stated that since gender equality is part of the basic structure of the Constitution, Muslim women cannot be denied this right.
  • It says “even theocratic states have undergone reforms in this area of law” which reinforces that these practices cannot be considered an integral part of practice of Islam.


What activists say?

  • Women’s rights activists have long called for reform of the Muslim personal law which they say discriminates against women.
  • What they want instead is a well-defined law that criminalises polygamy, unilateral divorce and child marriage.
  • Campaigners say the “triple talaq” practice is unconstitutional because it violates the right to equality.


Why triple talaq should be abolished?

  • In spite of protests by Muslim women and activists world-wide the procedure is still prevalent in most countries.
  • There are several instances where ‘triple talaq’ has enabled husbands to divorce their wives arbitrarily, devoid of any substantiation.
  • Oral talaq or ‘triple talaq’ delivered through new media platforms like Skype, text messages, email and WhatsApp have become an increasing cause of worry for the community.
  • The ‘triple talaq’ has been abolished in 21 countries including Pakistan, but is still prevalent in India.
  • The Centre reasons that these practices are against constitutional principles such as gender equality, secularism, international laws etc.
  • The government also argues that when these practices are banned in Islamic theocratic countries, the practices could have absolutely no base in religion and are only prevalent to permit the dominance of men over women.


What is National Commission of Women’s view?

NCW is of the view that the traditional custom of triple talaq should be banned in an effort to protect the rights of Muslim women and it cannot be linked to the Uniform Civil Code. According to the commission, Muslim women feels disempowered because of the practice of triple talaq


What does the court say?

  • The Allahabad High Court has ruled that the practice of triple talaq (Talaq-e-bidat) among Muslims is unconstitutional and violates the rights of women enshrined in constitution.
  • High Court also held that No Personal Law Board is above the Constitution i.e. it was indirectly referring to All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)


What is the road block in front of courts?

  • If SC subject triple talaq as an aspect of personal law to constitutional norms, SC will have to overrule 1951 judgement of the Bombay HC (subsequently affirmed by the Supreme Court in another case) called State of Bombay v. NarasuAppa Mali
  • In that case, SC held that uncodified personal laws may not be scrutinised for fundamental rights violations


SC final verdict:

  • Struck down the controversial Islamic practice of instant talaq.
  • Talaq is arbitrary and whimsical mode of ending marriage violated Muslim women’s fundamental right to equality.
  • Talaq should be erased from the 1,400-year-old Sharia-dictated divorce manual.
  • Supreme Court issued the direction after observing that even theocratic Islamic States had corrected their Shariat to banish instant talaq.
  • Supreme Court ordered the government to frame a ruling to address the issue of Muslim women under the yoke of triple talaq
  • Verdict compared triple talaq to social evils such as sati, infanticide and devadasi system, which were cast out by way of legislation and not by judicial orders.



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