Instant triple talaq is not part of the Quran and is a latter-day practice, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday, questioning why the controversial custom shouldn’t be barred when some Islamic clerics describe as sinful additions to the Muslim holy book.
“If biddat is sin, then why not talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq),” the court said on the day the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) argued its case for triple talaq. Biddat, which loosely translates to innovation in religious matters, is something which is not in Quran and is a later day addition.
The court also asked the law board if it was possible to give a woman a choice to say no to triple talaq, the controversial divorce practice that has been challenged as biased by several women.
“Can a woman be given an option to say no to triple talaq at the time of execution of nikahnama?” a five-judge constitution bench asked, referring to the Islamic marriage contract.
A nikhnama is prenuptial agreement that spells out the rights and responsibilities of the groom and the bride.
Triple talaq allows Sunni Muslim men to end a marriage by uttering the word talaq (I divorce you) thrice in quick succession.
Taking off from where it left on Tuesday, the AIMPLB again questioned the court’s competence to hear the case as it defended the divorce practice. Instant triple talaq was not a popular way to end a marriage and such cases accounted for only 0.44% of divorces among Muslims, it said.
The board had on Tuesday said the divorce was being practised for 1,400 and was a matter of faith just like Ram Lalla’s birthplace, referring to the long-pending dispute over building a temple to Lord Ram in Ayodhya, which Hindus believe is his birth place.
“Triple talaq is not a question of equity and good conscience but of faith. Can’t bring constitutional morality into it,” board’s lawyer and senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal had said.
Wednesday is the last day for the board to argue its case, which is being heard daily. The Supreme Court wants to end the hearings by May 19 and an order in the case is expected by June.
The Centre has already told the court that it would frame a matrimony law for Muslims if it were to strike down triple talaq.