New Delhi: It is a historic verdict and I honestly feel that none of us can make a realistic assessment of the positive impact that this judgment is going to have on the Muslim community.
It will not only liberate Muslim women but also provide them with a sense of equality. It will provide them with a sense of empowerment.
This verdict will bring about a paradigm shift and I foresee a changed scenario in the days when women will no longer accept instant talaq as a fait accompli. Empowered by the Supreme Court verdict, they will answer and retort back.
They will tell their spouse that “This triple talaq is unconstitutional. I am not going to leave the house, you can leave the house.”
Muslim women will seek protection from the police and other authorities. They can, like any other citizen of the country, report the case of mental torture and the husbands who pronounce unconstitutional triple talaq will be arrested.
Four to five such cases will set the precedent and send a strong message to the whole community.
This is going to be a game-changer for Muslim women. This verdict is not just about divorce but about giving a sense of equality of status and empowerment to all women.
Even the non-Muslim women, wherever and whenever they feel they are being subjected to injustice or being suppressed or being treated unequally, they will take inspiration from this judgment that Muslim women under such heavy and adverse situation and circumstances could successfully fight this unjust practice and win. It is a great milestone.
Our society is dynamic, it is changing and evolving. In 1986, when the Shah Bano Case happened, nobody was ready to speak. Even those who had submitted the petition to the then Prime Minister against the stand of the Personal Law Board never spoke in public. But Rajiv Gandhi government decided to enact a law to negate the apex court order in the Shah Bano case. The same set of petitioners who had earlier endorsed my stand later came up to me, requesting not to drag the matter any further.
I was told that I was up against a set of very powerful people.
There has been a sea change in the last two decades. In 1986 nobody was willing speaking. Everybody was scared of them. Not today. The women are now speaking freely. Women are more aware and this change has come because of education.
Also, today the All India Muslim Personal Law Board knows very well that its stand is unacceptable.
I don’t look at this as a victory or triumph of any one person or party. This is a great achievement for the women of India and not just Muslim women. This is not the end of the battle. In fact, the real battle has just begun. It is a battle for securing equality at home, workspace, politics, judiciary, business and every walk of life.
(Arif Mohammad Khan is a senior lawyer who argued on behalf of petitioners in triple talaq case. Former Union minister, he has advocated abolishing of All India Muslim Personal Law Board)
(As told to Eram Agha)