Triple Talaq is a practice within certain Muslim communities where a man can issue instant divorce to his wife by saying Talaq thrice.
The custom is prevalent among the followers of Hanafi Islamic school of law and is widely practised in India.
Triple Talaq is also known as talaq-e-biddat (instant) and talaq-e-mughallazah (irrevocable).
In the past, the divorce was issued by saying talaq thrice in person. But of late there have been instances of talaq over a letter as well as SMS and WhatsApp messages.
Civil affairs of the Muslim community is governed by the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, aka, Muslim Personal Law. According to this law, a class of Muslim legal scholars called the ulema interpret the Shariat for personal affairs. The Hanafi Sunnis’ ulema considers triple talaq a binding break of contract when performed in front of Muslim witnesses. The act still needs to be confirmed by a Shariat court.
But there are several other ulemas that do not consider this process as the right approach.
The act is considered legally valid, but traditionally it is disapproved in Islamic jurisprudence. A number of Muslim majority countries have done away with this form of divorce and implemented a reformed approach. But India, which has a big Muslim population used to follow this practice until recently.
The Indian Supreme court has recently banned the practice, calling it one of the ‘worst’ forms of divorce and asked the national government to introduce a bill within six months to ban the practice.
Indian central government introduced The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 in December. The new legislation bans written, oral and even electronic form of instant triple talaq. If used, the husband may be jailed for up to 3 years in case he violates the rule.
Muslim women welcomed the bill as they believe the unilateral nature of the act and lack of recourse makes triple talaq unfair to the wife.
As expected, the bill saw a lot of opposition from Muslim men, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), and many other organisations. While the principal opposition party Congress supported the bill, many smaller parties opposed, it calling it a faulty bill. Apart from the making the act criminal, the bill also allows women to seek financial support for herself and minor children
It is the first bill of such a nature being passed in the Indian parliament and holds significance especially since the mullahs were against the order.