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Supreme Court refers matter to constitution bench, hearing on May 11 in Triple talaq case

The Supreme Court referred various petitions on the Constitutional legitimacy of ‘triple talaq’ and polygamy practiced in the Muslim community to the Constitution Bench. The SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India JS Khehar said that a 5 Judges Constitution bench will hear petitions challenging the constitution validity of triple talaq, polygamy and nikah halala from May 11.

The top court indicated last month that it was strongly leaning toward a five-judge constitutional bench deciding on these issues, as they are to do with the interpretation of the India’s founding document.

The case relates to a batch of petitions filed in the top court – including by the Centre – regarding whether divorce by saying ‘talaq’ three times is legal or whether it impinges on equal rights or in this case, women’s rights, and whether freedom to practice religion – via the Muslim Personal Law for Islam – takes precedence over basic freedoms, among other things.

“It is humbly submitted that the court ought not to venture into the area of changing personal laws by following the trend in several other countries. It is pertinent to note that any change or reform that comes with the backing of legislature takes due care of diverse cultural background, sensitivity and sensibility of the stakeholder community and thus is in spirit adheres to both the principles – the principle of democracy and the principle of separation of powers”, the AIMPLB written submissions said.

“It is important to note that changes in other countries, with a distinct socio-cultural and even legal back ground must not be applied in Indian context, without appreciating the distinct nature of the Indian society, as doing so shall not only destroy the democratic legislative process underlined in the Constitution of India but it shall also be great injustice to the followers of Islam in our nation,” it said.

Triple talaq has faced repeated legal challenges in recent years, and the government has said it wants to replace it with a new uniform civil code applicable to all religious groups. But that proposal has met stiff opposition from Muslim groups, who argue that it would discriminate against them.

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