TIA NEWS / New Delhi
In a major shift from its stated position, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, AIMPLB today informed the Supreme Court that it would issue an advisory to Qazis across the country to give an option to Muslim women to opt out of ‘instant Triple Talaq’ before giving consent for Nikaah.
The five-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer was told that the AIMPLB would file an affidavit before the court stating its decision including the copy of model Nikaah Nama.
The AIMPLB decision comes a day after the apex court asked it to consider giving an option to Muslim women to deny prospective husbands the option of ‘triple talaq’ before she agrees for marriage (Nikah).
Permitting the AIMPLB to file its affidavit, the constitution bench reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of instant triple talaq which the court was told was “horrendous”, “sinful” and “undesirable” but was a matter of faith being practised in Islam for last 1400 years.
The court was also told that though a matter of faith, triple talaq could not be sourced in Quran.
Addressing the constitution bench, AIMPLB’s senior counsel Kapil Sibal said he had a meeting with the Board members on Wednesday (May 17) and they have decided to issue an advisory to all the Qazis across the country.
That the bride has opted out of triple talaq would be recorded in the Nikaah Nama, the court was told.
With Centre linking the issue of triple talaq with that of constitutional morality, AIMPLB wondered why was Centre shying away from enacting a law to curb the practice by taking recourse to Articlec25(2)(b) of the constitution that permits enactment of a law invoking social reforms.
Article 25(2)(b) says that nothing prevents the State from enacting a law “providing for social welfare or reforms …”
Article 25 guarantees the freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.
Having a dig at the Centre telling the court that it should first rule against triple talaq and other forms of talaq then it would enact a law to set-in, Sibal said, “You (Centre) can’t say that I will not bring a law, you (Court) decide the matter.”
Let them enact a law to deal with triple talaq, it only then its constitutionality would be tested by the top court, AIMPLB said.
As various petitioner raised questions about the sources of customs and practices, Sibal urged the court not to venture in this area as it was a slippery.
“Testing the validity of customs and practices was a slippery slope”, Sibal said the court should stay away from venturing in this arena.
In his rejoinder arguments while saying that “what was sinful in theology, can’t be good in law”, senior counsel Salman Khurshid said that he differed with AIMPLB saying that Islam suffered from patriarchy.
While saying that AIMPLB was a body of standing having eminent and scholarly people on it, Khurshid who is assisting the court differed with Attorney General that court should rule against all forms of talaq under Shariat before a law is enacted.
He also differed with AIMPLB which has contended that though sinful and undesirable triple talaq was a matter of faith for Muslims.
Contesting AIMPLB’s claim to be a representative voice of Muslim community, senior counsel Anand Grover said that Talaq-i-bidat was not an essential part of the Sunni Muslim faith, thus it has been changed in several Sunni-majority countries.
Citing the prevailing conditions where Muslim women were protesting against instant triple talaq, Grover appearing Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan’s co-founder Zakia Suman, questioned AIMPLB claim that they are discouraging the practice of triple talaq amongst Muslims.
The matter is rooted in October 16, 2015, order of the apex court by which it had directed the separate listing of a PIL addressing the question of the rights of Muslim women.