SC Constitution Bench to Hear PILs Against Polygamy, Nikah Halala

A Constitution Bench will hear pleas against the validity of Islamic practices like nikah mutah and nikah misyar.

Updated
India
2 min read
File photo of Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. 
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Months after the Supreme Court struck down Triple Talaq, it issued another notice on Monday, 26 March, to the centre to hear petitions challenging a slew of Islamic practices – polygamy, nikah halala, nikah mutah and nikah misyar.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud agreed on Monday to hear the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the aforementioned practices.

The matter was referred to a Constitutional Bench after the three-judge bench issued notice to the central government and the National Commission for Women, reported Bar and Bench.

Essentially, the case has arisen out of four different petitions filed asking for Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act to be declared unconstitutional and in violation of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution, insofar as it seeks to recognise and validate the practice of polygamy and nikah halala.

The petitioners are a male Bharatiya Janata Party leader, two Muslim women whose husbands have had multiple wives and used triple talaq to divorce them, and a Muslim advocate and social activist.

In addition to polygamy and nikah halala, the petitions also point out that despite the Supreme Court decision declaring triple talaq to be illegal, there is still no provision in law to punish this.

According to the petitions, these practices violate criminal provisions in the Indian Penal Code – triple talaq is cruelty under Section 498A, nikah halala rape under Section 375, and polygamy a violation of bigamy under Section 494. If members of any other religion do anything similar, they are criminally liable, so it violates the equal treatment provision of the Constitution for there to be an exemption under Muslim law. The practices are also argued to violate the right to life.

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