India's Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce their wives as unconstitutional. The bench, comprising five senior judges of different faiths, deliberated for three months before issuing its order in response to petitions from seven Muslim women who had been divorced through the practice known as "triple talaq." Indian law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there's no need for further legislative action by the government. The decision was widely lauded by women's rights activists as a step toward granting Muslim women greater equality and justice, reports the AP. "It's a very happy day for us. It's a historic day," said Zakia Soman, the co-founder of the Indian Muslim Women's Movement, which was part of the legal battle to end triple talaq. "We, the Muslim women, are entitled to justice from the courts as well as the legislature."
More than 20 Muslim countries, including neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned the practice. But in India, triple talaq has continued with the protection of laws that allow Muslim, Christian, and Hindu communities to follow religious law in matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption. Those laws allow men to divorce their wives by simply uttering the Arabic word "talaq," which means "divorce," three times—and not necessarily consecutively, and by any medium, including phone, text, or social media. "This is the demand of ordinary Muslim women for over 70 years, and it's time for this country to hear their voices," activist Feroze Mithiborwala told NDTV. The government supports an end to the practice. Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the judgment as "historic" and "a powerful measure for women empowerment."