Invalidating Instant Triple Talaq: Is the Top-Down Approach of Reforming Personal Laws Prudent?
Niraj Kumar & Akhilendra Pratap Singh*
Volume 11 Issue 2 (2018)
In Shayara Bano v. Union of India, the Indian Supreme Court pronounced a split, though bold and progressive verdict setting aside the practice of instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat. Against the backdrop of this judgment, this paper traces the jurisprudence evolved by Indian courts vis-à-vis personal laws and the right to religious freedom. Two central arguments are presented in the course of this paper. First, the courts have not adopted a consistent approach when dealing with issues connected to personal laws. Second, the courts by means of the doctrine of essential religious practices have, besides interfering in the domain of personal laws, attempted to fashion the religion specific personal laws as per the understanding of the respective judges. In relation to this, the paper briefly considers the efficacy of the top-down approach of personal law reform which has been practised in India in the post-independence period. While showing that the top-down approach of personal law reform has not fared well in the Indian context, the paper suggests a different and more inclusive approach which can be adopted in the endeavour to reform personal laws.