Triple Talaq law to come under Supreme Court lens, notice issued to Centre
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a batch of petitions that challenge the triple talaq law on the ground that the law was not only disproportionate but also extremely excessive and stringent. The Centre has also asked the central government to respond to petitions filed by various groups against the law, formally called the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019.
“We will examine this,” a bench of the top court comprising justices NV Ramana and Ajay Rastogi told senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who was appearing for one of the petitioners.
The Supreme Court had rendered instant triple talaq — under which a Muslim man can divorce his wife by uttering the word “talaq” thrice in succession -- unconstitutional in the Shayara Bano case in August 2017. The Centre had come up with a bill to make instant triple talaq punishable soon after but it got stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the NDA government did not have a majority. In the interim, the “triple talaq” ban was enforced through an ordinance.
The bill was finally passed after several aborted attempts during the monsoon session, a feat made possible due to the opposition’s depleted strength in the Rajya Sabha.
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The petitions filed by two organisations and an individual - Samastha Kerala Jamiathul Ulama, relegious organisation of Sunni Muslim scholars; Amir Rashid Madni a politician and Islamic scholar and a Muslim organisation ‘ Jamiat Ulama- I- Hind’ - have asked that the law be held unconstitutional and struck down.
The judges did have a few questions before they agreed to issue notice and asked the petitioner why a practice already held null and void could not be made a punishable offence.
Senior lawyer Salman Khurshid told the bench that there were many dimensions, including making the practice a punishable offence and a jail term of up to three years, which should be examined by the top court.
The Centre has pitched the ban on instant triple talaq as a huge step for empowerment of women. According to the law, the practice of instant triple talaq is a cognizable offence.
A cognizable offence is one in which the police may carry out an arrest without a warrant, and is used for serious crimes such as theft, rape and murder.
Jamiat-Ulama-I-Hind, one of the three that petitioned the court, said the provisions imposed excessive and disproportionate punishment and defined instant triple talaq, also called talaq-e-biddat, a non-bailable offence.
There are graver offences under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for which lesser punishment is prescribed, the organization has submitted.
Section 4 of the Act punishes a guilty muslim man with three years of imprisonment and shall also be liable to pay fine. Some of the IPC offences, quoted by the petitioner, with lesser punishment are rioting (2 years), bribery (one year), adulteration of food or drink (six months or fine or both), causing death by negligence and rash driving or riding on a public way (six months or fine of Rs 1,000 or both).