SC issues notice to Centre over pleas challenging criminalisation of triple talaq

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the Union Government on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of ‘The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 that criminalises instant triple tala

Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, appearing for the petitioner, told the court there was no need to criminalise the practice when the Supreme Court has already declared instant triple talaq null and void.

Justice Ramana said: “I have a doubt. See, there are many religious practices such as child marriage and dowry in the Hindu community. Such practices are still going on. They have been criminalised. Why can’t triple talaq be criminalised similarly if it is still prevalent?”

The petition, filed by Samastha Kerala Jamiathul Ulema, a Kerala Sunni Muslim outfit, stated that the law, passed by Parliament on July 30, was “class specific to Muslims” and “violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution”.

“The intent behind the Ordinance (which preceded the Act) is not abolition of Triple Talaq but punishment of Muslim husbands,” the plea had said, adding “protection of wives cannot be achieved by incarceration of husband”.

“The impugned Act applies across the country and thus has national ramifications. The Ordinance has introduced penal legislation, specific to a class of persons based on religious identity. It is causative of grave public mischief, which, if unchecked, may lead to polarisation and disharmony in society,” it added.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill, 2019, which makes the practice of instant triple talaq a penal offence, and for which ordinances were issued three times, was cleared by Parliament in July this year.

In August 2017, a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court had struck down instant triple talaq in a complex, layered, split verdict. Three of the five judges on the Constitution Bench — Justices Rohinton F Nariman, Uday U Lalit and Kurian Joseph — called the practice un-Islamic and “arbitrary” and disagreed with the view that triple talaq was an integral part of religious practice.