For Shayara Bano, an Uttarakhand native, August 22 will go down as one of the most memorable days of her life, and one that she will share with millions of Muslim women in India.
Bano was the first petitioner in the case that led the Supreme Court to pass a historic verdict declaring the practice of triple talaq unconstitutional.
Bano filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the SC in 2016, seeking a ban on the practice of instantaneous triple talaq after her 15-year marriage with an Allahabad man was abruptly ended in October 2015.
It is important to note here the distinction between "instantaneous triple talaq" and triple talaq itself. The latter is allowed by the Quran and includes a Muslim man uttering "talaq" on three occasions over a course of 90 days. This interval is meant to give the couple a chance for reconciliation.
A mother of two, Bano said that she was made to undergo at least half a dozen abortions which wrecked her emotionally and physically. She was not allowed to meet her close relatives (Notably, the husband did not deny this). But she still lived on, trying to somehow save her marriage. What she got instead was a talaqnama through a telegram in 2015.
Even after Bano's family gave dowry to her husband and his family during the marriage, she was allegedly tortured by her in-laws who demanded additional dowry in the form of a car and cash, which her family was unable to provide. Bano’s petition, a copy of which has been published by Live Law, also states that she was subjected to physical abuse and was also administered drugs that would make her unconscious, affect her memory and make her sick.
Bano’s husband, however, denied beating Bano. Speaking to The Indian Express, he said, "I have given her talaq the way Shariat and Hadith allow me to. I cannot take her back now, it will be against the Shariat. It is not good to go against what the religion has prescribed."
Despite the trauma she allegedly suffered through her marriage and because of its dissolution, Bano remained determined to fight the injustice she was subjected to. As she told Hindustan Times, “Take the help of law like me and have patience, faith and perseverance. I had no money. My kids are taken away. I suffered intense depression. And yet if I can fight a legal battle, why can’t others?”
Bano's petition sought that the practices of talaq-e-bidat, nikah halala and polygamy under Muslim personal laws be declared illegal and unconstitutional on the grounds that they violate Articles 14, 15, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
"The practice of talaq-e-bidat and divorce of a woman without proper attempt at reconciliation violates the basic right to live with dignity of every Muslim woman," her petition states.
"Muslim women have been given talaq over Skype, Facebook and even text messages. There is no protection against such arbitrary divorce. Muslim women have their hands tied while the guillotine of divorce dangles, perpetually ready to drop at the whims of their husbands who enjoy undisputed power. Such discrimination and inequality hoarsely expressed in the form of unilateral triple-talaq is abominable when seen in light of the progressive times of the 21st century," the petition states.
While Bano's petition also sought a ban on polygamy, the Supreme Court that heard a batch of petitions challenging triple talaq in May had made it clear that it would not examine the validity of anything that formed an intrinsic part of Islamic religious practices – thereby ousting any submissions on polygamy.
With IANS inputs