October 17, 2017


- Mrunalini Deshmukh, Lawyer [ ]

Mrunalini Deshmukh

Legal Era Magazine in conversation with Mrunalini Deshmukh, outlining her thoughts on the recent triple talaq judgment by SC...

Mrunalini Deshmukh started her legal practice in Bombay High Court under then Advocate General Arvind Bobade. Mrunalini later worked part-time as Professor to post-graduate students at Bombay University. Eventually, she got into practicing family law, first from the Family Court in Mumbai, subsequently moving on to the Supreme Court of India, specializing in Cross-Border Matrimonial Litigation (divorce, alimony & child custody).


Do you agree/disagree with the SC Constitution Bench’s landmark judgment outlawing instant triple talaq divorce by Muslim men? Why?

The Supreme Court’s landmark judgment which has held instant Triple Talaq to be unconstitutional is in my opinion a truly iconic judgment. The judgment does not do away with the entire Triple Talaq; in fact, the Talaq-e-Hasan and Talaq Ahsan have still not been touched by the Supreme Court in this judgment. What they have held as unconstitutional is a Talaq-e-Biddat, which is instant talaq, i.e., pronouncing 3 talaqs in one go. In my view, it is a great relief for thousands and lakhs of Muslim women who constantly lived in fear of receiving triple talaq either on Whatsapp or on the phone or via letter. This has also in my view restored some dignity to the Muslim women who otherwise felt rejected and abandoned by their husbands. I believe that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has granted dignity to the Muslim women, without any interference in the Personal law of Muslim, as even the Quran abhors the practice of triple talaq. In fact, if you see even in a lot of Muslim countries, instant triple talaq has been banned, as the same adversely affected the status and the dignity of Muslim women.


Do you think the judgment will worsen existing communal tensions?

I do not see any communal tensions on account of this landmark judgment. In fact, the Hon’ble Supreme Court has only done away with the oppressive instant triple talaq (which is not recognized by the holy Quran) without interfering in the personal laws of the Muslim. The print and the electronic media indicate that a large section of Muslim men and women, and some Muslim organizations, and NGO’s have welcomed the judgment and it is only a handful of dogmatic and fanatic Maulvis who are unhappy with the judgment and perceive it as “interference in their personal laws”.


The decision has rekindled discussion on a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) that would replace existing personal laws for Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Parsis. Will the judgment actually succeed in bringing about a UCC, and is a UCC advisable for the Indian polity?

In a way, this judgment has rekindled discussions on a Uniform Civil Code (UCC). I believe this judgment is indeed a unique judgment as, finally, even after various judgments by the apex court in the past like the Shah Bano judgment in the year 1975, there were no substantive amendments made or legislation made to protect Muslim women from this barbaric, oppressive instant triple talaq.

I would definitely and highly recommend that all personal laws for Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and Parsis with regard to marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance, right to property, etc. are substituted by a Uniform Civil Code, which in my view would be gender neutral, and also bring in a lot of uniformity in the laws, leaving very little to the judiciary for interpretation. In my view, a Uniform Civil Code will largely benefit Muslim women in matters of their alimony, divorce, property rights, and inheritance. The very fact that the framers of our Indian Constitution thought it fit and proper to introduce Article 44 in the chapter, Directive Principles of State Policy, shows that they were advocating uniformity in civil laws way back in 1950. In fact, the various discussions that took place between members of the drafting committee focused on uniformity in civil laws as a great step towards gender, justice, and gender equality.


Do you think the SC decision is a game changer? Why?

I would surely look at it as a game changer, more so, as Muslim women in India have been at the mercy of their husbands for several decades primarily due to lack of education and being financially dependent on them. Over and above that, Muslim husbands had the authority to unilaterally pronounce Instant Triple Talaq. This made the Muslim wives very vulnerable. Hence, I would look at the judgment as a game changer to some extent.

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