02 March, 2021

Liberté Egalité Sororité

It’s a wrong righted, unambiguously. But the SC is status quoist on personal law.

Liberté Egalité Sororité

‘Historic’ is a word that gets tossed about too often when it comes to legal verdicts. But here it would be quite apt, tangled up as the issue was in a long timeline of debates over the uneasy fit bet­ween the modern Consti­tution and the place for older ‘personal laws’ within it. The Supreme Court’s majority decision holding the pronoun­cement of triple talaq in one sitting as illegal has been a hard-won victory. The activists and petitioners who had sou­ght the end of the practice are jubilant that it has been recognised as a form of cruelty and shown the door. In the public mind, justice for Muslim women is now also etched into an arc that begins from Shah Bano and ends with Shayara Bano.

Shayara from Kashipur, Uttarakhand, is the unquestioned hero of this moment. A mother of two who was unilaterally div­orced, she mounted a legal challenge on the constitutional sanctity of instant triple talaq—or talaq-e-biddat—last summer. Shah Bano is her alter ego from the 1980s, a woman who had sought alimony after being...

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