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Supreme Court agrees for urgent listing of pleas against ‘nikah-halala’, polygamy

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud considered the submissions of senior advocate V Shekhar that the petitions be listed before a five-judge constitution bench for final adjudication.

india Updated: Jul 02, 2018 20:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Nikah-halala,Polygamy,Supreme Court
FILE - In this Aug. 22, 2017 file photo, a gardener works in the lawns of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India. India's main opposition parties sought Friday, April 20, 2018, to impeach the country's top judge, accusing him of misuse of authority and acting under government pressure. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File)(AP)

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the early hearing of challenges to polygamy and “nikah halala” and said these petitions would come up for hearing before a Constitution bench after the federal government files its response.

The court’s response came after the lawyers for a woman petitioner who has challenged the practices told a bench led by the Chief Justice of India that she was under tremendous pressure to withdraw her plea.

Senior advocate V Shekhar and advocate Archana Pathak Dave told the bench that their client, Sameena Begum, had been threatened by her in-laws to either withdraw the petition or be thrown out of the matrimonial home.

CJI Dipak Misra said he would look into the matter on the administrative side as the petitions had been referred to a constitution bench. “We will look into it,” he said, adding they can be listed for a hearing after the centre files its response.

Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta told the court that the government will respond to the petitions soon; the Centre has already made its stand clear and said it will support the petitions pending in the top court.

The lawyers said they were forced to mention the matter for an urgent listing because the petitions were earlier shown in the advance cause list of business of the Supreme Court, but were subsequently removed.

Last August, the SC banned the age-old practice of instant ‘triple talaq’ among Sunni Muslims. On March 26 this year it referred to a larger bench petitions challenging polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims.

While polygamy allows a Muslim man to have four wives, ‘nikah halala’ deals with the practice in which a Muslim woman, who wants to re-marry her husband after divorce, has to first marry another person and get a divorce from the second person after the consummation of the union.

Notices have been issued to the ministries of Law and Justice and Minority Affairs as well as the National Commission of Women (NCW). However, none of the three have filed any response.

Sameena Begum, in her petition, has said no married woman from the community can file a complaint against her husband for the offence of bigamy due to the practice of polygamy.

A similar plea filed by Delhi-based woman Nafisa Khan has sought to declare the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939, as unconstitutional.

First Published: Jul 02, 2018 15:22 IST