Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

By Nick Reilly

New Delhi (Reuters) The supreme court in India has opened formal hearings into a number of petitions that challenge the practice of instant divorce in Islam.

India is one of only several countries in the world where a Muslim man can divorce his wife in a matter of minutes by saying the word talaq, which means divorce, three times.

But the country’s supreme court has now opened hearing into petitions that challenge the controversial triple talk practice – and claim that it is discriminatory.

Muslim groups across India have criticised the state for intervening in religious matters, but the move has now gained the backing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The issue is being heard in court by a cross-faith bench made up of five judges from five religions – a Hindu, a Sikh, a Christian, a Zoroastrian and one Muslim.

In terms of specific examination of the case, the bench has combined petitions from Muslim women and rights groups – with each side given three days to argue their cases.

Speaking to the BBC last year, petitioner Shayara Bano revealed how her husband had instantly left her after using the controversial triple talaq practice.

She said: ‘He’s switched off his phone, I have no way of getting in touch with him. I’m worried sick about my children, their lives are getting ruined.

It is expected that a judgment will be delivered in the coming weeks.

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