Petitions in apex court, HC challenge triple talaq law
A petition challenging the constitutionality of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, which criminalises instant triple talaq and attracts a three-year jail term for the husband, was filed in the Supreme Court on Friday.
Filed by Samastha Kerala Jamiathul, a religious organisation of Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics in Kerala, the petition has claimed that Parliament has made a law ”specific to a class of persons based on religious identity. It is causative of grave public mischief, which, if unchecked, may lead to polarization and disharmony in society.”
The bill, informally called the triple talaq bill, was cleared by Parliament earlier this week. It received presidential assent on Wednesday, making it an enforceable law.
According to the petition, “The intent behind the Act is not abolition of triple talaq but punishment of Muslim husbands. Section 4 imposes a maximum sentence of 3 years imprisonment when a Muslim husband pronounces triple talaq. The offence is cognizable and non-bailable as per Section 7.”
It added, “If the motive was to protect a Muslim wife in an unhappy marriage, no reasonable person can believe that the means to ensure it is by putting an errant husband in jail for 3 years and create a non-bailable offence for merely saying “talaq talaq talaq.”
The petition argued that non-compliance to statutorily prescribed procedures for divorce in other religions was not a punishable offence. “There is no reasonableness or constitutional logic for making the procedural infirmity in effecting divorce a punishable offence for members of Muslim community alone.”
A petition was filed in the Delhi high court, too, by an advocate Shahid Ali, claiming the law was violative of the fundamental rights of Muslim husbands and would shut down all room for compromise between the couple. It alleged that the Centre’s intentions were “mala fide and ultra vires” of the Constitution.