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Howrah: SC verdict against triple-talaq gives abandoned wife a reason to cheer

Over two years ago, Ishrat Jahan’s husband had pronounced a telephonic triple-talaq from Dubai — leaving the 31-year-old woman to fend for herself.

kolkata Updated: Aug 22, 2017 15:35 IST
Tanmay Chatterjee
Tanmay Chatterjee
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Triple talaq,Supreme Court,Divorce
Ishrat Jahan was married to Murtaza for 15 years before he pronounced the triple-talaq.(HT Photo)

Small-built and soft-spoken, Ishrat Jahan found little reason to cheer in the three years since her husband pronounced a telephonic triple-talaq from Dubai in April 2014. It was only on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court ruled against the practice, that the 31-year-old woman finally allowed herself a burkha-obscured smile.

“I am very happy with the judgment. The apex court has issued the right directive. Now I can hope to get justice in a legal battle I have been fighting for the last two years,” said Jahan, a resident of Howrah, a couple of hours after the apex court verdict was delivered.

While Jahan isn’t completely against the idea of divorce, she wants the process to be fair towards women. “One should not be allowed to issue talaqs through telephone, Whatsapp or e-mail. Even if a person wants to divorce his partner in the Shariat way, it should follow a process akin to that of the nikah (marriage),” she said.

Ironically, the divorce Jahan underwent was so informal that she cannot even remember the exact date her husband, Murtaza, delivered it. The days that followed were spent in utter misery. Jahan’s room in Howrah doesn’t even have an electricity connection, and the meagre monetary aid provided by her siblings is the only thing that keeps the wolf from her door. “I have three sisters and two brothers. They supported me all along,” she said.

It was with dread that Jahan recalled the telephone call that changed her life. “My husband just muttered talaq three times before disconnecting the line,” she said.

Like most lower-middle class women caught in such situations, Jahan approached the police and courts. They, however, couldn’t do much to help. Nearly a year had passed before she finally managed to lodge a formal complaint against Murtaza – with whom she was married for 15 years.

The couple had moved from Bihar to Howrah in 2001, the year they were married. Their relationship turned sour after she bore him three daughters, and Murtaza suggested marrying again in the hope of getting a son.

Though the two had a male child in 2010, their marriage remained turbulent. Murtaza later left for Dubai, and finally – five years later – he decided to end their marital relationship by uttering the dreaded T-word three times over the phone.

Jahan has sought the custody of all their children – three daughters and a son – besides maintenance costs. Murtaza sent two children to stay with her in the year that followed the registration of her case.

“A year ago, my son and my eldest daughter came to live with me. With them, joy returned to my life,” said Jahan. “My condition did not improve, though. My sister-in-law, with whom I stay, quarrels with me every day. Last year, she disconnected the electricity connection to my room. Since then, I have been living with my children without any of the basic comforts that we have taken for granted.”

So, does she expect any assistance from the Trinamool Congress government that claims to have improved the living conditions of Muslims in Bengal? “I want the government to aid not just me but every woman who is going through a similar plight,” said Jahan.

She has also indicated her willingness to move into a new home if the state government or any NGO comes forward to help.

First Published: Aug 22, 2017 15:25 IST