The Supreme Court today said it would examine whether the practice of triple talaq among Muslims is fundamental to their religion. The top court said it would examine whether triple talaq is a part of enforceable Fundamental Right, PTI reports.
A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar also said the issue of polygamy among Muslims may not be deliberated upon by it as this is unrelated to triple talaq. Other judges on the bench are Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and Abdul Nazeer.
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So what the Triple Talaq case is all about
It all started in February last year when Shayara Bano, divorced through the practice, petitioned the Supreme Court for a ban on triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala. Thousands of Muslim women across the country have since formed pressure groups and spearheaded signature campaigns demanding that triple talaq be abolished, the PTI report says.
Supreme Court hearing
The hearing assumes significance as the apex court has decided to hear the case during the summer vacation and is likely to sit on Saturdays and Sundays to expeditiously decide the contentious and sensitive issues arising in the matter.
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It holds importance as the Allahabad High Court had held in April the practice of triple talaq as unilateral and bad in law. The High Court verdict had come after it dismissed a petition filed by one Aaqil Jamil whose wife had filed a criminal complaint against him, alleging that he had tortured her for dowry and when his demands were not met, he gave her triple talaq.
The 5-member bench
The bench, made up of judges from different religious communities — Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Hindu and Muslim — is hearing seven petitions, including five separate writ petitions filed by Muslim women challenging the practice of triple talaq prevalent in the community. The petitions claim that triple talaq is unconstitutional.
The apex court made it clear that each side will get two days each for canvassing their arguments on the two questions formulated by the bench and one day will be given for the rebuttal. The apex court had on March 30 said that the Muslim practices of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy are issues that are “very important” and involve “sentiments”.
The apex court, while referring to the matter to a larger bench, had observed that “sentiments” were involved in the matter and a five-judge constitution bench would adjudicate the issue, which required a detailed hearing. The apex court had earlier said it would decide issues pertaining to the legal aspects of the practices of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy among Muslims, but would not deal with the question whether divorce under Muslim law needs to be supervised by courts as it fell under the legislative domain.
AIMPLB’s opposition, Muslim women’s petitions
Influential Muslim organisations like the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) have opposed court’s adjudication of these matters, maintaining these practices stemmed from the Holy Quran and were not justiciable. AIMPLB had on March 27 told the apex court that pleas challenging such practices among Muslims were not maintainable as the issues fell outside the realm of judiciary. The Board had also said the validity of the “Mohammedan Law”, founded essentially in the Holy Quran and sources based on it, cannot be tested on the particular provisions of the Constitution. It had said there was a need for “judicial restraint” before going into constitutional interpretation of these unless such an exercise becomes unavoidable.
The Muslim women, who have filed the petitions, have challenged the practice of triple talaq in which the husband, quite often, pronounces talaq thrice in one go, sometimes even by phone or text message.
Narendra Modi Government’s view
On October 7 last, the Centre had opposed the practice of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy among Muslims in the SC and sought a re-look on the grounds of gender equality and secularism, the report says.
The Ministry of Law and Justice, in its affidavit, had referred to Constitutional principles like gender equality, secularism, international covenants, religious practices and marital law prevalent in various Islamic countries to drive home the point that the practice of triple talaq and polygamy needed to be adjudicated upon afresh by the apex court.