Even as the Supreme Court reserved its judgment in the triple talaq case, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Thursday informed the court that it intended to arm Muslim brides with an option to lay down a condition in their nikahnama forbidding their prospective husbands from pronouncing instant talaq on them.
In its rejoinder before a Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, AIMPLB counsel Kapil Sibal said the board was against the practice of instant talaq.
“We do not want the practice to go on. We held a meeting yesterday [Wednesday] and will send a circular to all the Qazis to mention it in nikahnama that it would not be permitted,” Mr. Sibal submitted.
But Mr. Sibal reiterated his warning to the court not to go down the “dangerous and slippery slope” of declaring what was “essential” and what was “sinful” in Islam. Mr. Sibal said reform should start within the community and lead to legislation by Parliament.
Once the legislature had passed a law, the court could test it on the principle of constitutional morality and equity. But not now when triple talaq is practised as a pristine personal law based on social and family norms.
Justice Kurian Joseph asked Mr. Sibal if the AIMPLB would put it on record that it would send an advisory to the Qazis giving women a say against instant talaq in their nikahnama .
On Wednesday, Justice Kurian had asked Mr. Sibal to enquire with religious and community leaders if such an option could be included in the nikahnama .
Justice Kurian said that if nikahnama was a contract, the Qazis could add this clause to protect the women of the community.
Appearing for Ishrat Jahan, one of the petitioners, counsel V.K. Biju argued on the varied and often “casual” manner instant talaq was pronounced, thanks to the advent in technology.
“Many talaqs are pronounced over Skype, WhatsApp and even by just SMSes sent to the wife. There was an instance when a husband pronounced talaq through WhatsApp in Kottayam district in Kerala. Once, a triple talaq was invoked by a husband after a quarrel over a namkeen packet,” Mr. Biju submitted.
Appearing for another petitioner, Shayara Bano, senior advocate A.S. Chadha and advocate Balaji Srinivasan argued that a “social reform whose time has come cannot be obstructed by Article 25.”