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India's top court directs constitution bench to hear Triple Talaq petitions in May

Several women have filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of the practice of Triple Talaq. Photograph: (AFP)

WION New Delhi, India Mar 30, 2017, 09.54 AM (IST)

India's top court, the Supreme Court, Thursday fixed for May 11 the hearing of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the practices of Triple Talaq, Nikah Halala and polygamy among Muslims.

The top court said the matter will be heard by a constitution bench, PTI reported.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said the matter will be heard by a Constitution bench during the summer vacation.

The top court was to hear today various petitions challenging the legitimacy of triple talaq and polygamy in the Muslim community.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the federal government told the court Triple Talaq was unconstitutional.
 

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The practice of Nikah Halala implies that a man cannot remarry a woman after Triple Talaq unless she has already consummated her marriage with another man and her new husband dies or divorces her.

Triple talaq allows Muslim men instant divorce by saying the word talaq three times.

The federal government had earlier submitted a list of issues for adjudication to the top court including the question of whether the fundamental right to practice and propagate one's religion protected the practice of Triple Talaq, Nikah Halala and polygamy among Muslims.

The federal government had opposed the practices of Triple Talaq, Nikah Halala and Polygamy among Muslims in October, saying they violated the laws of gender equality and secularism.

Referring to the legal issues framed by the Centre, the court had said in February all of them related to constitutional issues and needed to be dealt with by a larger bench.

Several women have also filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of the practice.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), however, claims that any order against Triple Talaq would be an infringement on their right to follow and profess any religion.

The Muslim body told the top court on March 27 that the pleas challenging such practices among Muslims were not maintainable since the issues fell outside the realm of judiciary.

The AIMPLB had said there was a need for "judicial restraint" before going into constitutional interpretation of the practices unless such an exercise becomes unavoidable.

The top court had earlier said it would decide issues pertaining to the "legal" aspects of the practices of Triple Talaq, Nikah Halala and polygamy and would not deal with the question whether divorce under Muslim law needed to be supervised by courts as it fell under the legislative domain.

In its affidavit, the Ministry of Law and Justice had referred the constitutional principles of 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.

The apex court had taken suo motu cognizance of the question of whether Muslim women faced gender discrimination in the event of divorce or their husband marrying again.

(WION with inputs from agencies)

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