With Triple Talaq now banned by the Supreme Court, we asked 3 young lawyers in India what they thought about it.
The ancient and discriminatory practice of Triple Talaq in India was ended last week, with the Supreme Court ordering for an injunction and directing the Central Government to frame a new law over the course of the next 6 months. Noted judicial scholars and the vast majority of Society have hailed the verdict, considering the practice ‘abhorrent’ and grossly prejudicial to women.
We spoke to three young women, all accomplished lawyers in their own right, for their opinion on the verdict. Being the future of the Indian legal system, their perspective was invaluable in understanding the thoughts going through the minds of millions of young Indian women.
26, Lawyer, Times Of India
I, personally whole-heartedly embrace the verdict of the Supreme Court. It gives me hope that other discriminatory laws against women such as Halala and Polygamy will also be dealt with soon. Stitching together a Uniform Civil Code which addresses discrimination against vulnerable groups while not affecting individual religious faiths would be the perfect solution to harmonise the various cultural practices and bring them in line with the ideals and principles of our Constitution.
Patriarchal misinterpretations and distortions have ruled our lives since times immemorial. Any talk of reform in personal laws is vehemently opposed as interference in religious affairs. However, the time has come for the Judiciary and State to step up and, without any political agenda, ensure that women’s rights are protected at any cost.
26, Lawyer, Bombay High Court
It is about time that the three branches of the Government stopped passing the ball around ever so slowly when it came to important matters that need a speedy and just remedy. Our youth is currently all about carpe diem i.e. seize the day, be it in terms of side tracking from a job and building Start-Ups to being rebellious at home by refusing to take up a professional course and instead chasing ones creative dreams.
The solution for the betterment of our country always lies in broadening ones mind and questioning age old principles and philosophies. Being a criminal litigator, I can see that many such reforms are still left pending, from criminalizing marital rape to de-criminalizing same-sex relationships. The buck is just constantly being passed around from one branch of the government to another.
Therefore, being an officer of the court, this bold move taken by the Honourable Supreme Court in striking down Triple Talaq for being violative of the fundamental right to equality and is against women’s rights, makes me beam with pride. When there is indeed a way to make certain reforms that would instantaneously give relief to countless aggrieved citizens of this country, why shirk off the responsibility bestowed upon you? When the ball came to this Honourable Court, they indeed seized the day, once again instilling confidence in the branch of this Government.
26, Lawyer & Political Consultant, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research
Ever so often, the World Bank collects data from countries all over the world, to develop indices based on factors that determine the progress of a country. One such data base, the Gender Data Portal, has data on the “attitude towards wife beating” and “justified in reducing sex”. The information for the year 2006-2015 reveals that 30.3% (of national average) women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife when she argues with him. 20.4% (of national average) women believe that beating is justified when wives burn food. And, 29% (of national average) women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife when she neglects the children. Shockingly, 47.2% of the national average believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife for for any one of the five reasons on which data was collected.The cultural attitudes of a society often shape how even women perceive themselves.
The Supreme Court in India, has thus far been perhaps the most powerful champion of womens’ rights in the country. More importantly, it has thus far, presented an unbiased view of womens’ rights, often placing them on a higher standing that religion.Examples of such cases such as the Shah Bano case and Daniel Latifi v. Union of India (a Muslim husband is to pay maintenance to his divorced wife), Mary Roy and others. v. State of Kerala (Christian women are entitled to have an equal share in their father’s property), and Vaddeboyina Tulasmma v. Vaddeboyina Shesha Reddi (empahsised the right of a Hindu female, to maintenance). And more recently, the Shayara Bano v. Union of India or the Triple Talak case.
The Supreme Court eventually ruled in favour of removing the practice of triple talak. In doing so, India, is one of 20 countries that has banned the practice. These include, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iraq and Pakistan. One of reasons cited for this decision was that the rights of women are an integral and indivisible part of universal human rights. The court relied on cases such as the Anuj Garg case, where the court emphasised on removing patriarchal mindsets (and struck down a law which debarred women from employment on the pretext that the object of the law was, to afford them protection).
In addition to the ultimate decision of banning the practice, the facts of the judgment has also shed light on the fact that martial cruelty is still a large part of many marriages in India. For instance, in the past instances of such a divorce through electronic media like SMSs, Skype and WhatsApp, have left many women abandoned.Most recently, in April 2017, a Mumbai woman was in the news for having received such a divorce on SMS. This judgment will ensure that this stops.
As a lawyer and as a woman I cannot adequately express, the importance of this judgment, for two reasons, firstly, for ruling in favour of the petitioners and striking down the practice of talak-e-biddat or triple talak and most importantly, for recognising that this is an issue of women rights and not one of religion or politics.
The next few years are poised for more change, and our collaboration to move forward as a society, especially with respect to women rights, will come under both scrutiny and pressure. Clinging on to archaic practices under the convenient excuse of ‘tradition’ and ‘culture’ are not possible when the end result is inequality, inferiority and injustice.