The Indian Supreme Court has struck down a law that gave Muslim men the right to instantly divorce their wives. The decision was by a majority of 3 to 2.
What is the situation in Singapore?
For muslims undergoing divorce, the situation is somewhat complex and revolves around the husband communicating the word, "talak", to the wife 3 times. "Talak" is Arabic for, "to release" or "to divorce". There is significant controversy whether (a) the communication must be made directly in the presence of the wife and in the presence of 2 reliable witnesses or (b) proof of communication (or admission of communication by the wife) is sufficient.
This has led to the issue whether it was possible to have Instant Divorce by various modes of electronic communications. At least one man has resorted to "ambushing" his estranged wife by giving her an innocuous excuse to meet up and then springing out with his father and his best friend and uttering, "talak", to his wife. It is helpful to appreciate the context in which uttering talak 3 times arose.
Before Islam, the practice in Arabia allowed men to say talak as many times as they wished. Islam then stepped in and limited the number of times that a man could say talak on separate occasions to only 3 times. On the other hand, he could say talak 3 times on one occasion but this meant that the man and his wife could not reconcile unless she marries another person, consummates that subsequent marriage and thereafter divorces that other person.
The purpose appears to be to force the man to consider carefully before saying talak even once, much less 3 times. In Singapore, the Syariah Court carefully considers all the evidence and the testimony of all witnesses before deciding whether the man's utterance was clear and whether he had a clear intention never to reconcile.
The Women's Charter clearly says that the Court shall initially make an Interim Judgment for Divorce. Three months after the date of the Interim Judgment, the Court can then grant the Final Judgment. This effectively works as a waiting period for the couple.
During this time, either party can go to Court to give reasons why the Interim Judgment should not be made Final. These reasons should be based on material facts that had not been brought before the Court earlier. The Court can "by general or special order from time to time" fix a shorter "waiting period".
However, this is usually based on special circumstances which the Court thinks warrants a reduction of the usual 3 months' "waiting period". Where such special circumstances exist, the Court has in the past reduced the period to a month and even just a week. For more information on such special circumstances, please call 65351800.