Indian Supreme Court Declares Instant Divorce Not Part of Quran

Wikimedia Commons/Claude RenaultA Muslim couple weds alongside the Tungabhadra River at Hampi, India as a Hindu man takes his ritual bath in the background.

Triple Talaq is not a basic form of Islam, the Supreme Court (SC) said on Wednesday during the continuation of the hearing challenging the Muslim practice. But the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) warned that quashing the practice would shake the religion's foundation.

Triple Talaq is a form of oral divorce among Muslims in India where the husband declares his intent to divorce his wife by speaking the word "Talaq" or "I divorce you" three times. The High Court described it as the "worst form of marriage dissolution" and wants it barred.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) J S Khehar himself, who heads the five-man constitution bench, pointed out that the practice is a deviation from the right path. "Somebody gave this book to us," he said, referring to the Quran. "You recite namaz in mosque every Friday. In that prayer, you say triple talaq is a sin and bad. How can you say it is integral part of Islam?" he added.

The CJI pressed on with his argument by saying that triple talaq was "mentioned nowhere in the book." Two days before, the SC declared: "There are school of thoughts (which) say that triple talaq is legal, but it is the worst and not desirable form for dissolution of marriages among Muslims."

AIMPLB defended the controversial custom and questioned the SC's jurisdiction on the matter, considering the secular nature of the Constitution. It also clarified that triple talaq is practiced by a "miniscule portion" of the Muslim community and accounted for only 0.44 percent of divorce cases.

Last week, senior lawyer Salman Khurshid said that Islam considered triple talaq "sinful but valid in law," taking from AIMPLB's recently passed resolution declaring the practice to be "wrong" but is still a valid way to end a marriage. The contradiction wasn't lost to the SC which asked how God can ordain a "sinful practice."