Will hear only triple talaq case, says apex court

Posted May 20, 2017

"Hence, there was no question of constitutional morality and equity", Sibal said.

Sibal was referring to the AG's statement in the court on Monday where he assured that a new divorce law for Muslims would be in place, if triple talaq is struck down.

A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar said "We have to see the test of essentiality and the government has to prove that "triple talaq" is not an essential part of Islam as this will amount to tinkering with religion".

The Bench has to test them on the touchstone of the fundamental rights of gender equality, gender justice, gender discrimination, human rights, and dignity under Articles 14, 15, 21 and 51A of the Constitution.

The apex court began the hearing on a batch of cases challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq, nikah, halala and polygamy practices among Muslims. Nikah halala allows a woman to go back to her husband but only after she marries another man, consummates the marriage and gets a divorce.

The Supreme Court will today continue the hearing on the Triple Talaq matter.

During the last hearing, the apex court had observed that triple talaq is the "worst" and "not a desirable" form of dissolution of marriage among the Muslims, even though there were schools of thought which called it "legal".

Rohatgi's submission came when the court asked him about the remedies for a Muslim man to end a marriage if such practices were struck down. For arguments, Supreme Court gave first three days to those in opposition of Triple Talaq and next three days to those who favor it. AIMPLB and other parties have two days left before the Supreme Court comes to a conclusion.

In December previous year, the Allahabad High Court termed the Islamic practice of divorcing a woman by uttering the word "talaq" thrice "unconstitutional". But we are not here to tinker with religion, tenets of religion and religious practices.

Attorney-general Mukul Rohatgi told the court it was not an "ecclesiastical court" but a constitutional one that ought to decide cases on principles of law, morality and public order.

"Point taken, you have raised a very valid and good point", the bench had said.

Another counsel appearing in the case said "triple talaq was the most undesirable form of granting divorce and we are trying to educate people not to resort to it". "It violates the rights of Muslim women", ruled the high court, adding that no personal law board was above the Constitution. Immediately after a few years of the death of Prophet Muhammad, the companions of Prophet Muhammad talked about triple talaq.

Sibal, on behalf of the AIMPLB, said in court that matters of faith such as the Hindu belief of Ram being born in Ayodhya or the question of triple talaq shouldn't see interference from the courts because these are personal/faith-related issues.

The bench had asked Khurshid if triple talaq was India- specific and what had led to its repeal in other countries.

"We can not go into rights and wrongs because my faith does not allow this", Sibal said. "Is e-talaq also there?" the court asked.