Who are we to say triple talaq is un-Islamic?

To this, the bench had said, "we can not do that".

Her counsel senior advocate Amit Singh Chadha referred to the practices in the neighbouring Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh to buttress his plea that triple talaq was un-Islamic.

For five days, the country's five seniormost judges have heard lawyers argue that triple talaq wasn't just a centuries-old practice but also an integral part of Islam. We have no other option. "It is the guardian of fundamental right", Rohatgi replied. "On the contrary, it is deprecated by Islam", Chadha told the court.

Citing examples, Khurshid told the court that the Triple Talaq practice can not be validated constitutionally.

While Jethmalani attacked the practice on various constitutional grounds including the right to equality and termed it "abhorrent", Khan said it was akin to the pre- Islamic era practice of burying a female child alive in the Arabian region.

"Can it be made possible to give an option to a wife that she can say that she was agreeable to or not agreeable to it (triple talaq)?".

To this, the bench, in a lighter vein, said, "We have been asking him (AG) to pass the law, so that we do not have to go into this".

Malappuram family court Judge Ramesh Bhai ruled out the ratification appeal by religious orator Ali Faizi Pavanna, hailing from Arikkode Oorngattil in the district, in the absence of solid reason to divorce his wife Pandarakkandi Jameela, a native of Muthuvallur.

Among other arguments, the AIMPLB accepted that triple talaq is sinful, but "lots of sinful things are...protected by law".

When Rohatgi cited the steps taken to reform Hindu practices, including the banning of sati, infanticide and the devadasi system, Justice Joseph said that all those were legislatively decided.

Khan had said the whole Shariat law has been distorted as "Shariat is the Holy Quran and not the opinion of these people (clerics)".

The Supreme Court hearing concluded on Thursday and the bench of five multi-faith judges reserved judgment.

However, the top court said that they have limited time, so all the matters could not be covered at present. Like when it comes to Dowry prohibition Act or Guardianship Act you follow customs and protect them,"he said".

He further argued that even under Article 25 of the constitution which guarantees right to propagate and practice religion, the core religious values were subject to part III of the constitution spelling out the fundamental rights.

"How will you (court) set it aside? If the law does not permit anybody to do something, it can be tested", he said.

The Supreme Court can not be called upon to decide as to what was wrong or right with the practice and belief, he said.

Saying that the diversity of India has to be nurtured and not ridden over roughshod, Sibal referred to the Constitution's Article 371 which provides for special provisions in respect of different states and laws in respect of them can't be made without their consent. There is a process provided under the Constitution.

Even as rights of women were being debated in Chief Justice' court, an unsavoury incident in court today, once again brought to fore the issue of safety of women in the apex Court.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which favours the practice, also equated triple talaq with the Hindu belief that Lord Rama was born at Ayodhya. "No, legislation got rid of it", Chief Justice Khehar observed.

"Only 0.4 per cent is practising it and this is not a ground to strike it down", Sibal said adding that Qazis have been advised to avoid triple talaq until there were unforeseen circumstances. "It is a very slippery slope and the court must be very careful".

"If there is a consensus among Muslim scholars that it is a practice then it is valid".

The study has noted that the cases of triple talaq are rare and in cases where they have occurred, the community by and large has strongly stood by the side of the victim and tried to rehabilitate her. He also reiterated that triple talaq was a "non-issue" which does not require judicial scrutiny.

Vanessa Coleman