Triple talaq, polygamy not sanctioned by Islam, Centre tells SC
The Centre has urged the Supreme Court to declare triple talaq and polygamy among Muslims as unconstitutional as they affected the fundamental right of Muslim women to live in dignity and security.Updated: Apr 27, 2017 06:50 IST
Triple talaq and polygamy practised by many Muslims are not sanctioned by Islam, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday.
Urging the top court to declare these practises unconstitutional, the Centre asserted that they affected the fundamental right of Muslim women to live in dignity and without any security unlike women of other religions in the country.
The arguments are part of Centre’s written submissions that would be taken up by a five-judge constitution bench during the ensuing summer vacation. The bench will determine the validity of the practises.
The statement comes a day after Salma Ansari, wife of Vice-President Hamid Ansari, said uttering ‘talaq’ thrice did not amount to divorce and asked Muslim women to read the Quran thoroughly instead of relying on clerics.
Rebutting the contentions put forth by Islamic organisations, including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the Centre said the constitutional protection of freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 was not absolute to the community in this regard because the regressive practices violated one’s right equality, life and liberty.
“Practices such as polygamy cannot be described as being sanctioned by religion in as much as historically, polygamy prevailed across communities for several centuries including the ancient Greeks and Romans, Hindus, Jews and Zoroastrians. It had less to do with religion and more to do with social norms at the time,” the Centre said in its written submissions, drafted by advocate Madhvi Divan.
In the Holy Quran as well, it appears that the prevalent or perhaps even rampant practice of polygamy in pre-Islamic society was sought to be regulated and restricted so as to treat women better.
Gender equality and the dignity of women were non-negotiable and cannot brook compromise. These rights were necessary not only to realise the aspirations of every woman but also for the larger well-being of the society and nation.
“The practices which are under challenge, namely, triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy are practices which impact the social status and dignity of Muslim women and render them unequal and vulnerable qua men belonging to their own community; women belonging to other communities and also Muslim women outside India. There are unreasonable classifications which arise from practices such as those under challenge in the present petition, which deny to Muslim women the full enjoyment of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution,” the Centre stated. Such discrimination based on religion cannot be countenanced in a secular country.