In a major boost to women's rights, the Allahabad high court today held that the practice of `triple-talaq' practised by Muslims in India unconstitutional and a violation of the rights of Muslim women.
In its order, the Allahabad high court also said that no Personal Law Board is above the Constitution – that the practice of 'triple-talaq' where Muslim men divorce their legally married wives by repeating the world 'talaq' thrice.
"Triple-talaq is unconstitutional; it violates the rights of Muslim women. No Personal Law Board is above the Constitution," said the Allahabad high court order.
The Supreme Court is also hearing a petition challenging the validity of triple-talaq as several individuals and NGOs have sought a ban on the practice.
The government, for the first time, has opposed the practice in the apex court and said, "The issue of validity of triple-talaq, nikah halala and polygamy needs to be considered in the light of principles of gender justice and the overriding principle of non-discrimination, dignity and equality."
While a majority Muslims are against the practice, some Muslim men still consider 'triple' as their right – that men have unequivocal right to divorce wives at will and that too by repeating the word 'talaq', thrice.
A number of Muslim women and organisations have moved various courts across the country challenging the validity of 'triple-talaq'.
Senior All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member Kamal Faruqui refused to believe that the high court had pronounced its order. He said the courts should not interfere with religious rights (meaning divorcing by repeating talaq thrice), which is ''guaranteed by the Constitution.''
"Islam is one of the most progressive religions on women's rights. Talaq is part of Sharia law, so no interference should be there. The Constitution gives me the right to follow my religion," he said.
According to Faruqui, the court's order is a mere observation and not a decision.
The Supreme Court is also hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the triple talaq promoted by the Muslim Personal Law Board.
The central government is also backing the petitioners in their legal fight against such practices that are violative of fundamental rights like gender equality and the ethos of secularism, a key part of the Constitution.
Senior union minister Venkaiah Naidu welcome the court's observation. "The Constitution is supreme and it is above religion... The Allahabad court's observation is to be hailed and atrocities against women should not be there," he said.
The AIMPLB has strongly opposed the move against triple talaq and imposition of uniform civil code, saying ''divine'' Sharia laws regarding marriage, divorce and adaptation cannot be modified or altered by any person or authority.