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Case Law Details

Case Name : Shayara Bano Vs Union of India and others (Supreme Court of India)
Appeal Number : Writ Petition (C) No. 118 of 2016
Date of Judgement/Order : 22/08/2017
Related Assessment Year :

Supreme Court of India on Tuesday in the case of Shayara Bano Vs Union of India and others has set aside the practice of Triple Talaq by a 3:2 majority. Justices Kurian Joseph, UU Lalit and RF Nariman delivered the majority Judgment. Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer dissented.

Relevant Para from the Judgment of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer (Page 271 to 272)

199. In view of the position expressed above, we are satisfied, that this is a case which presents a situation where this Court should exercise its discretion to issue appropriate directions under Article 142 of the Constitution. We therefore hereby direct, the Union of India to consider appropriate legislation, particularly with reference to talaq-e-biddat’. We hope and expect, that the contemplated legislation will also take into consideration advances in Muslim ‘personal law’ – Shariat’, as have been corrected by legislation the world over, even by theocratic Islamic States. When the British rulers in India provided succor to Muslims by legislation, and when remedial measures have been adopted by the Muslim world, we find no reason, for an independent India, to lag behind. Measures have been adopted for other religious denominations (see at IX – Reforms to `personal law’ in India), even in India, but not for the Muslims. We would therefore implore the legislature, to bestow its thoughtful consideration, to this issue of paramount importance. We would also beseech different political parties to keep their individual political gains apart, while considering the necessary measures requiring legislation.

200. Till such time as legislation in the matter is considered, we are satisfied in injuncting Muslim husbands, from pronouncing talaq-e-biddat’as a means for severing their matrimonial relationship. The instant injunction, shall in the first instance, be operative for a period of six months. If the legislative process commences before the expiry of the period of six months, and a positive decision emerges towards redefining talaq-e­biddat’ (three pronouncements of talaq’, at one and the same time) – as one, or alternatively, if it is decided that the practice of talaq-e-biddat’ be done away with altogether, the injunction would continue, till legislation is finally enacted. Failing which, the injunction shall cease to operate.

Justice Kurian Jospeh [Majority] (Page 296 to 299)

22. As recently as in 2016, Mustaque, J. of the High Court of Kerala in Nazeer 0 Oyoor Nazeer v. Shemeema 2017 (1) ELT 300, has inter alia referred to Shamim Ara and has disapproved triple talaq.

23. Therefore, I find it extremely difficult to agree with the learned Chief Justice that the practice of triple talaq has to be considered integral to the religious denomination in question and that the same is part of their.

24. To freely profess, practice and propagate religion of one’s choice is a Fundamental Right guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. That is subject only to the following- (1) public order, (2) health, (3) morality and (4) other provisions of Part III dealing with Fundamental Rights. Under Article 25 (2) of the Constitution of India, the State is also granted power to make law in two contingencies notwithstanding the freedom granted under Article 25(1). Article 25 (2) states that “nothing in this Article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law- (a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice; (b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.” Except to the above extent, the freedom of religion under the Constitution of India is absolute and on this point, I am in full agreement with the learned Chief Justice. However, on the statement that triple talaq is an integral part of the religious practice, I respectfully disagree.

Merely because a practice has continued for long, that by itself cannot make it valid if it has been expressly declared to be impermissible. The whole purpose of the 1937 Act was to declare Shariat as the rule of decision and to discontinue anti-Shariat practices with respect to subjects enumerated in Section 2 which include talaq. Therefore, in any case, after the introduction of the 1937 Act, no practice against the tenets of Quran is permissible. Hence, there cannot be any Constitutional protection to such a practice and thus, my disagreement with the learned Chief Justice for the constitutional protection given to triple talaq. I also have serious doubts as to whether, even under Article 142, the exercise of a Fundamental Right can be injuncted.

25. When issues of such nature come to the forefront, the discourse often takes the form of pitting religion against other constitutional rights. I believe that a reconciliation between the same is possible, but the process of harmonizing different interests is within the powers of the legislature. Of course, this power has to be exercised within the constitutional parameters without curbing the religious freedom guaranteed under the Constitution of India. However, it is not for the Courts to direct for any legislation.

26. Fortunately, this Court has done its part in Shamim Ara. I expressly endorse and re-iterate the law declared in Shamim Ara. What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well.


In view of the different opinions recorded, by a majority of 3:2 the practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ – triple talaq is set aside.

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One Comment

  1. sasi says:

    It is highly deplorable that the right for equality of a section of society has been ignored by the law makers of this country for the last 70 years because of their vote-bank politics. The shameless congress party had the guts to turn down the court verdict on Shah Bano case. And the then opposition parties also had their share of blood and hence, supported the legislation silently. This means, those sitting in the so-called temple of democracy can do anything to suit their need even by trashing the judgement of a court of law..!! and the common man has no venue to look for justice. It is perplexing to see that the decision to impose emergency for political reasons was also taken at this ‘temple of democracy’…!!! I truly wish that a true gentleman from our Armed Forces should take over the reins of power for a 5 year period, cleanse the so-called democracy thoroughly of its ills and install a presidential form of government in line with that of United States of America, but with a maximum of 3 or 4 national level political parties.
    When will we see transparency in governance? When will Uniform Civil Code come? When will the trains be safer to travel? When will the management of banks be held responsible for the NPAs which runs to billions of rupees? When will the legislation for political reform come? When will the political parties be held responsible for their lapses and un-fulfilled promises? When will the political parties become transparent and file their returns? When will the caste/religion-based reservation and politics end? When will a common man get justice in a court within a year or less? When will education and medical help be available to all?
    All the above ills and much more will never end with the current brand of shameless, self-centered politicians in power. The cure can only be brought in by a responsible, truly patriotic officer of our Armed forces….. ofcourse not like the ones we have in our neighbourhood. The officer should take over the Government, set a time-bound programme, implement it ruthlessly, see to it that the systems, checks and balances are in place, help form a democratic government, allow it to run for sometime under the supervision of the Armed Forces, upon satisfactory performance, hand-over power to the people. Jai Hind….

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