The Supreme Court sought on Monday Centre’s response to a petition filed by a Muslim woman to end gender discrimination in the minority community.
Shayara Bano has challenged the practice of triple ‘talaq’, ‘nikah halal’ and polygamy, calling it unconstitutional as it violated the right to equality.
Under triple ‘talaq’, a Muslim man can divorce his wife by pronouncing the word “talaq” thrice, whereas ‘nikah halal’ allows a Muslim man to take back his wife if he divorces her under the influence of alcohol. However, the wife should have remarried and divorced her second husband before going back to the first one.
A bench of Justices AR Dave and AK Goel issued notices to the ministries of women and child development, law and justice and minority affairs. The National Commission for Women was also asked to submit its response.
The bench declined to hear Shayara’s estranged husband Rizwan Ahmad and posted the matter for hearing on March 28.
This is the second time when the top court has decided to examine Islamic personal law to scrap provisions bias against Muslim women, often victims of polygamy and arbitrary divorce.
The same bench had in October last year taken suo motu cognizance of the alleged bias, a move welcomed by activists who saw it as a step closer to evolving a uniform civil code for the country.
A Mumbai-based Muslim organisation — Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind — has opposed the SC’s move, saying the judiciary cannot test the validity of personal law. On February 5, a bench headed by Chief Justice had asked the Attorney General to file a response to the issues raised before it.
Shayara’s counsel Amit Chadda and Balaji Srinivasan said that Muslim women on Monday are being divorced through Facebook, Skype and text messages.
Shayara, from Kashipur in Uttarakhand, was married to Rizwan of UP on April 11, 2002 and was divorced through triple-talaq on October 10, 2015.