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Triple talaq verdict: Meet the five women who fought to stop instant divorce

The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down instant triple talaq, calling it unconstitutional and against the tenets of Islam.

india Updated: Aug 22, 2017 20:29 IST
Gulam Jeelani
Gulam Jeelani
Hindustan Times
triple talaq,triple talaq in India‬,Supreme Court ruling on triple talaq
Shayara Bano at her house in Haldwani, Uttarakhand.(HT photo)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside the controversial Islamic divorce practice of instant triple talaq, or the Talaq-e-Biddat.

In a 3-2 verdict, the top court said instant triple talaq -- under which women have been divorced in one go even over email, WhatsApp and letters -- was against Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to equality. (LIVE updates)

The bench, comprising five judges of different faiths, deliberated for three months before issuing its order.

The judgement, which is being hailed as historic, came two years after Shayara Bano, a Muslim woman from Uttarakhand, approached the apex court after her husband of 15 years sent her a letter the word ‘talaq’ written thrice before leaving her.

The court later tagged the petitions of four other women, with similar cases, with Bano’s petition.

Here are the parties to the case:

Shayara Bano, 36

It was Shayara Bano who challenged the controversial practice before India’s top court. Shayara, who holds a degree in MA Sociology, was divorced by her husband, Rizwan Ahmed, by pronouncing the word talaq thrice through a letter sent to her on October 15, 2015 when she was visiting her parents’ house.

Shayara, who hails from Uttarakhand’s Hempur Daya in Kashipur, filed a petition against triple talaq, halala and polygamy in the Supreme Court on February 23, 2016.

After divorcing her, Rizwan, a property dealer in Allahabad, took away her two kids-- Irfan , 13, and Muskan, 11, due to which she suffered from depression for many months. She alleged her in-laws also forced her to undergo abortions six times, mainly “with the intention of killing” her. A distraught Shayara even consulted a local cleric. But he told her that the talaq was valid.

“I welcome and support the judgment. This is a historic day for Muslim women,” Bano said after the verdict.

Gulshan Parween, 30

Gulshan Parveen of Rampur in Uttar Pradesh filed a petition in Supreme Court asking for abolishing triple talaq. In 2015, she alleged her husband sent her a talaqnama on a Rs 10 stamp paper when she was at her parents’ home. The English literature postgraduate said she was subjected to domestic violence by him for dowry for over two years.

“My husband felt like it one fine day and suddenly both my two-year-old son Ridan and I were homeless,” Parween was quoted as saying by NDTV. She refused to accept it, following which her husband approached a Rampur family court asking for dissolution of the marriage based on the talaqnama.

Gulshan, the youngest of six, married in April 2013. Her husband was arrested in 2015 on charges of dowry harassment and criminal intimidation.

Aafreen Rehman, 28

Afreen Rehman got married in 2014 after finding a match through a matrimonial portal. However, after a couple of months, she alleged, her in-laws started mentally harassing her for dowry. Later, they even started beating her and in September 2015 they asked her to leave their house, she alleged.

She went back to her parents’ home and received a letter via speed post announcing talaq in January 2016.

“It’s a beginning towards the abolition of triple talaq in the country. A law against triple talaq is what we wanted and the court has directed the government to do the same...The cruelty that was happening against women in the name of triple talaq, wherein they were thrown out of the house like a pair of shoes, will now end,” said the MBA hailing from Jaipur.

Ishrat Jahan in Kolkata on Tuesday. (Samir Jana/HT)

Ishrat Jahan, 31

A resident of Howrah in West Bengal, Ishrat Jahan was divorced by her husband Murtaza through a phone call from Dubai.

In April 2015, her husband of 15 years, Murtaza, called and uttered the talaq word thrice before hanging up. Murtaza had allegedly married another woman and took away their four children with him.

“I am very happy at the judgement. The apex court issued the right directive. Now I hope to get justice. I have been fighting for the past two years,” said Jaha. She added that she is not against divorce, but wants the process to be fair.

She and Murtaza both hailed from Bihar. The couple moved to Howrah from Bihar in 2000, the year when they got married. The relationship between the couple got bitter after they had three daughters.

Murtaza wanted to get married once gain in the hope that the new wife will bear him a son, and though he and Ishrat had a son in 2010, the relationship never improved.

Atiya Sabri, 28

Atiya Sabri, a resident of Sahranpur in Western Uttar Pradesh is the last petitioner in the case.

Her husband Wajid Ali – they were married in 2012 -- sent her a piece of paper announcing he was divorcing her. It was sent to her brother’s office in November 2015.

She approached the Supreme Court in January this year challenging the divorce and said that triple talaq violates fundamental rights of women.

She has two daughters, aged four and three. She alleged that after her second daughter, her in-laws tried to poison her and she had to be hospitalised. Her husband was arrested later and a trial is on.

“‘The verdict of the Apex Court will end the agony of Muslim women who have fallen victim of triple talaq for none of their fault’, she said.

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan’s co-founder Zakia Soman outside Supreme Court on Tuesday. (PTI)

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA)

The top court made the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) a party in the case after taking cognisance of a survey which said 92% of Muslim women want abolition of triple talaq.

Led by Zakia Soman, the Mumbai-based autonomous body has been fighting for citizenship rights of Muslims since it was formed in January 2007. The organisation claims it has over 30,000 members in 15 states.

“It’s a good and balanced decision. Now we hope and expect the government to make a law against triple talaq the soonest,” said Naseem Akhtar, the Jaipur convener of the organisation.

(With inputs from Salik Ahmad in Jaipur, S Raju in Meerut and Tanmay Chatterjee in Kolkata)

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 16:47 IST