Apex Court's Triple Talaq Verdict To Apply Retrospectively: Andhra Pradesh High Court Rejects Husband's 2016 Suit For Divorce Decree
The Andhra Pradesh High Court, while setting aside a trial court order and rejecting a husband's plaint for declaration of a divorce decree upon pronouncement of triple talaq, has ruled that the operation of the Supreme Court's decision in Shayara Bano v. Union of India and Others on triple talaq is retrospective in nature.
The high court was hearing a civil revision petition filed by the petitioner-wife against the order of the Principal Junior Civil Judge, Chilakaluripet dismissing her application for rejection of the respondent-husband’s plaint for obtaining a divorce decree, which was moved by him after pronouncing triple talaq.
While stating that the operation of Shayara Bano was to be retrospective and that the plaint of the husband now stood barred in light of the Supreme Court’s pronouncement during the pendency of the husband’s suit, a single bench of Justice V.R.K. Krupa Sagar said:
“Such declaration of law being retrospective in nature applies to the plaint in the present case where the Triple Talaq was claimed to have been pronounced by the husband on 08.04.2016. In such an event, allowing such plaint to undergo the process of trial is incorrect. By the time the judgment is proposed to be rendered on such a plaint, the law available for the Court would be that there was no Triple Talaq. Therefore, the view of the trial Court that the ratio in Shayara Bano’s case is not applicable retrospectively is incorrect.”
The court also said that law declared by the Supreme Court of India is law and it binds on all the Courts. "Triple Talaq is held against law and is considered to be unconstitutional and the statutory base for application of persona laws, which allow Triple Talaq, were held unconstitutional," it added.
The couple got married in 1999. On 08.04.2016, the respondent-husband pronounced talaq thrice, informing the petitioner-wife about the same through a letter dated 08.04.2016, which was served on her on 18.04.2016.
A cheque for an amount of Rs. 9,000 towards the iddat amount was also sent to his wife and the Anjuman Committee was also informed about their talaq.
Subsequently, the respondent-husband moved a suit praying for a decree declaring dissolution of their marriage. The wife filed her written statement questioning the correctness of the alleged Talaq, calling it illegal as per Muslim law.
During the pendency of the suit, the wife moved an interlocutory application under Order VII, Rule 11 read with Section 151 of the CPC praying for rejection of the husband’s plaint citing the Supreme Court’s decision in Shayara Bano declaring talaq-e-biddat as well as Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 to the extent of dissolution of marriage by triple talaq to be unconstitutional.
The trial court, however, rejected her interlocutory application and stated that the alleged talaq was pronounced on 08.04.2016, after which the suit was filed by the husband praying for a decree on 04.11.2016. The pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Shayara Bano came only on 22.08.2017, by which time, the suit of the husband had already been pending for a year, said the court.
The trial court, accordingly proceeded with the trial and stated that since the plaint of the husband had already disclosed cause of action by the time the suit was filed, it could not be stated that the plaint was “barred by any law” as per Order VII Rule 11(d) of the CPC.
The High Court, while allowing the petition of the wife, stated that the operation of the verdict of the Supreme Court had retrospective effect in absence of any indication to the contrary. The Court said:
“In P.V. George v. State of Kerala, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India stated that the law declared by the Supreme Court of India will have retrospective effect unless contrary is indicated in the judgment. A perusal of Shayara Bano’s case shows that there is no indication that the principles laid down therein would operate prospectively. Therefore, by virtue of the principle laid down in P.V. George’s case, the ratio in Shayara Bano’s case should be understood as one that is retrospective in nature.”
The Court, accordingly, ordered the plaint of the husband to be rejected in terms of Order VII, Rule 11 of the CPC. The Court also set aside the impugned order passed by the Civil Judge.
The court also placed reliance on Madhya Pradesh High Court’s decision in Mirza Fahim Beg v. Kahkasha Anjum, First Appeal No. 322 of 2018 and the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court’s decision in Showkat Hussain v. Nazia Jeelani, 2019 SCC Online J&K 892.
Case Title: Shaik Jareena v. Shaik Dariyavali
Case No.: Civil Revision Petition No. 2477 of 2019
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (AP) 3
Coram: Justice V.R.K. Krupa Sagar