The Centre asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to decide whether the practices of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy among Muslims were protected under the fundamental right that allows one to propagate his or her religion.
The government’s proposition to the court was part of a list of four questions it had drafted for the top court’s consideration.
The document was prepared after a bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar asked the contesting parties on February 14 to narrow down the topics for argument in court.
The top court said it would refrain from venturing into the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) but remarked that triple talaq was a human rights issue.
This is the first time that the Centre has opposed in the top court the “regressive” practices among Muslims on grounds like gender equality, secularism and binding international covenants.
After perusing the Centre’s document, the CJI’s bench noted that the questions raised constitutional issues and would be dealt with by a five-judge bench.
The court has already indicated that it would begin hearing the petitions challenging the practices on May 11 and would conclude it within a week.
The government wants the court to give a judicial ruling on whether the right to practice and propagate religion was subject to other equally important rights, such as right to equality and right to life.
Referring to Article 13, which says a law is void if it does not conform to the constitutional scheme, the Centre said the court must also decide whether Muslim law was amenable to this provision or not.
The fourth issue, framed for the consideration of the apex court, said these practices were compatible with India’s obligations under international treaties and covenants to which the nation is a signatory.
In a detailed affidavit, the government questioned the validity of the three practices and said they were against the principles of gender justice and perpetuated inequality in the name of right to protect religion.