Activists, politicians, clerics, celebrities, political outfits and NGOs, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) that was contending for the triple talaq, on Tuesday hailed the Supreme Court verdict on the controversial instant divorce among the Muslim community.
While the government, women rights activists and political parties appreciated the apex court’s constitutional bench order banning instant divorce by a 3:2 verdict as unconstitutional, the AIMPLB said the court’s order also underlined that a community’s personal laws cannot be interfered with.
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley called the judgment as “progressive” and said efforts should be made to rectify “aberrations” in personal laws that infringe on constitutional guarantees.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the decision was an indication of an emerging new India.
BJP President Amit Shah hailed the ruling as “historic” and said it was a victory for Muslim women and their right to live with dignity.
“I welcome this historical decision… This judgement is not about anyone’s victory or defeat. This is the victory of basic Constitutional rights of Muslim women and their right to live with equality,” Shah said in a statement.
The Congress termed the ruling as an “affirmation of the rights of women” with its Vice President Rahul Gandhi congratulated “the women who fought for justice”.
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) welcomed the judgment but said it will properly respond only after studying the majority and minority judgments.
Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who represented the AIMPLB in the Supreme Court, said the ruling signifies as laid down by the majority judgment that Muslim personal laws cannot be interfered with.
“The decision where triple talaq is administered in one sitting is different from the decision in law which by majority says that personal laws can’t be tested on the anvil of Part III of Constitution. They cannot be tested on grounds of violation of Article 14 or 25.”
He stressed that the apex court had only banned the administering of triple talaq in one sitting and it did not interfere with the other two forms of triple talaq which are Talaq-e-Ahsan and Talaq-e-Hasan.
The AIMPLB too welcomed the apex court verdict saying it vindicated the organisation’s stand and “accords protection to Muslim personal law”.
It said the judgment will “ensure non-interference by the courts in matters of practices emanating from religious texts and belief systems” of different communities”.
The women’s wing of the AIMPLB termed as “contradictory” and “fractured” the judgement of the Supreme Court on triple talaq.
Asma Zehra, chief organiser of the wing, said while they respect the judgement that appeared confusing, triple talaq did not always work against women.
“Many a time it is an exit mechanism to relieve women from unsuccessful and troublesome marriages,” she said.
“Talaq is a non-issue and divorce rate is the least in the Muslim community. Muslims have divorce rate of only 0.5 per cent whereas it is 1.64 per cent in Hindu community,” she said.
But the Muslim women who challenged the practice expressed joy over their success.
Shayara Bano was the first petitioner in the case. “I feel happy for Muslim women. It’s a great day for them,” she said.
Another petitioner, Atiya Sabri, was married in 2012 and then divorced, has two daughters aged four and three.
“I was beaten and thrown out of the house. There were attempts to poison me,” she said, recalling how she was given instantly divorce.
Muslim clerics associated with the RSS-backed Muslim Rashtriya Manch too hailed the judgment in a chorus when Manch patron Indresh Kumar asked them at an event here if they were happy with the verdict.
A number of Bollywood celebrities including Anupam Kher, Madhur Bhandarkar and Dia Mirza too welcomed the judgment with Mirza calling it a “historic day for women’s rights in our country”.
Amnesty International India too welcomed the verdict as a step forward for womens rights in India.