The Supreme Court granted on Monday four weeks time to the Centre to file its reply on a batch of petitions on triple talaq and the plight of Muslim women.
A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice D Y Chandrachud gave time after additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta sought more time to respond.
On September 2, All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court that personal laws of a community cannot be “re-written” in the name of social reforms and opposed pleas on issues including alleged gender discrimination faced by Muslim women in divorce cases.
The AIMPLB, in its counter affidavit filed in the apex court, had said the contentious issue relating to Muslim practices of polygamy, triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) and nikah halala are matters of “legislative policy” and cannot be interfered with.
The board also said that practices provided by Muslim Personal Law on the issues of marriage, divorce and maintenance were based on holy scripture Al-Quran and “courts cannot supplant its own interpretations over the text of scriptures”.
Regarding polygamy, the board’s affidavit said though Islam permitted it, but it does not encourage the same and referred to various reports, including World Development Report 1991, which had said that polygamy percentage in tribals, Buddhists and Hindus were 15.25, 7.97 and 5.80 per cent respectively as compared to 5.73 per cent in Muslims.
The apex court had taken suo motu cognizance of the question whether Muslim women faced gender discrimination in cases of divorce or due to other marriages of their husbands and a bench headed by Chief Justice of India T S Thakur is examining the issue.
Subsequently, various other petitions including one by triple talaq victim Shayara Bano were filed challenging the age-old practice of ‘triple talaq’ among the Muslim community.
AIMPLB and Jamiat-e-Ulema had defended triple talaq and said it was part of Quran-dictated personal law which was beyond the ambit of judicial scrutiny.
The board had said though it was the “least appreciated” form of terminating a marriage, yet it was “very much effective” and in line with the Shariat law.
It further said that since part III of the Constitution does not touch upon personal laws of the parties, the apex court cannot examine the question of constitutional validity of practices of marriage, divorce and maintenance in Muslim personal law.
The board also said all the sources of Muslim personal law have been approved and endorsed by Holy Quran.