Muslim women have always been struggling to reform their personal laws for being granted maintenance, banning triple talaaq and other such patriarchal practices. In October 2015, a Muslim woman challenged not just her personal case of triple talaaq but the entirety of this practice.
35-year-old Shayara Bano moved the Supreme Court to ban the triple talaaq practice
Shayara Bano, a Muslim woman from Uttarakhand, had challenged the Triple Talaaq practice (an instantaneous divorce after saying “Talaaq” thrice) after being subjected to the same by her husband. Instead of fighting her own case in court, she had chosen to question the legality of this unjust practice hoping to abolish it, thus helping other women facing similar problems.
She had also challenged polygamy and the practice of ‘Halala’
Apart from Triple Talaaq, Muslim personal law also allows for polygamy and imposes the practice of ‘Halala’ (a practice where a woman can only remarry her husband after consummating a second marriage). Shayara Bano had petitioned the Supreme Court to abolish these practices, too.
Inspired by Shayara, other women came out against the triple talaaq practice
Jaipur resident Aafreen Rahman filed her own petition to protest triple talaaq after receiving a sudden divorce from her husband by speed post. Additionally Shaista Amber, President of the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board, had also spoken out explicitly against triple talaaq.
Various other groups also stood up in support of abolishing the practice
A nationwide campaign to ban these personal practices was launched by the non-profit Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA). They collected 50,000 signatures of Muslim men and women to strengthen the case. Prominent personalities like Anjum Rajabali, Javed Siddiqui and activist Javed Anand had also started sending messages in support of BMMA’s campaign.
The Supreme Court gave a landmark judgement on 22 August 2017
The Apex court had agreed to hear the petitions even though past verdicts suggest that the court’s stand is that the matter is pertaining to state policy and is not the judiciary’s concern.
After reserving verdict on a batch of petitions in May 2017, a 5-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India J. S. Kehar barred the practice in 3:2 majority in August 2017. The apex court put a 6-month stay on the practice, directing Parliament to enact a law within the given time period.
This judicial judgement could be a turning point in Muslim personal law.