The Armed Forces Tribunal has held that unilaterally delivering the triple talaq to one’s wife over the telephone or by issuing a notice is un-Islamic and against the tenets of the Holy Quran.
The Lucknow bench of the tribunal said this last week while dismissing the plea of Lance Naik Mohammad Faroor, who wanted the Army to stop granting maintenance money from his salary to his wife. It held that the Constitution was superior to all laws, and has an overriding effect over religious or cultural practices that may offend people individually or collectively.
Ruling in favour of the wife, who was allegedly divorced under the Muslim Personal Law, the tribunal held that Faroor could not have broken the marriage unilaterally. An individual’s fundamental right cannot be infringed upon under the garb of personal law, it said.
Faroor contended that the Army had no right to grant maintenance to his wife because the marriage was dissolved.
He argued that maintenance money, according to the rules, is meant for one’s legally wedded wife and children.
The Arabic word ‘talaq’ means to release or repudiate one’s marriage to a woman. Faroor argued that under the Muslim Law, a man has the unrestricted right to divorce his wife without giving a reason.
However, the tribunal held a different view. Quoting from teachings in the Quran, it said that the holy book followed by Muslims for guidance does not propound oral or ex-party talaq.
“Ex-parte divorce, oral or by letter, telegram or any other form, seems not permissible under the Muslim personal law,” the tribunal said. “The great holy book that deals with maintaining human conduct should not be read in piecemeal. It should be read from A to Z, and thereafter interpreted on the basis of the inference drawn.”
This judgment by the tribunal, which hears petitions against the Army’s administrative decisions, comes at a time when the Supreme Court is flooded with petitions filed against the practice of triple talaq.
The tribunal said nikah – the ceremony of marriage in Islam – is based on offer and acceptance between man and woman. Unless both of them agree, it cannot happen. Using the same analogy, a talaq must be declared in the presence of the wife, it said, adding that the two may file a divorce suit in court in the event of a disagreement.