India’s Supreme Court has formally opened hearings into a number of petitions challenging the controversial practice of instant divorce in Islam. The court said it would examine whether the practice known as “triple talaq” was fundamental to the religion.
India is one of a handful of countries in the world where a Muslim man can divorce his wife in minutes by saying the word talaq (divorce) three times. But activists say the practice is “discriminatory”.
Many Muslim groups have opposed the court’s intervention in their religious matters, although the move has the backing of the current Indian government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The sensitive issue is being heard by a multi-faith bench made up of five judges – a Hindu, a Sikh, a Christian, a Zoroastrian and one Muslim. The bench has combined several petitions from Muslim women and rights groups into one to examine the issue.
The opposing sides have been given three days each to argue their cases, with the court saying the hearing will end by 19 May. A judgement is expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.