Plea in SC challenging new law on 'triple talaq'

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The Muslim organisation 'Jamiat Ulama-I-Hind' has approached the Supreme Court challenging validity of the law declaring pronouncement of 'triple talaq' to end marriage a punishable offence.

It sought a declaration that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, passed last month was unconstitutional for violating the fundamental rights to equality, non-discrimination, life and liberty and for being excessive and disproportionate.

The Mumbai-based organisation contended that such an Act was not required as the practice has already been declared void and illegal by the Supreme Court's Constitution bench in 'Shayara Bano' case in 2017. They contended that the mere utterance of “talaq”, does not lead to termination of marriage and the law is nothing but an example of overcriminalisation.

Under the Sharia Law, ‘Marriage’ is regarded as a civil contract and Talaq is nothing but a repudiation of such a civil contract. Under the new law, the mere pronouncement of talaq has been made an offence punishable with a three-year jail term. The Act “fails to ensure cordiality in marriage and would in fact, lead to irretrievable breakdown of the marriage,” it maintained.

“The practice of deserting/abandoning the wife which exists in all communities is not a criminal offence at all, in such circumstances only criminalising the act of pronouncement of talaq resulting in instantaneous divorce, which is limited to only one particular community, results in unfair discrimination against the Muslim husbands,” their petition stated.

Criminalising the mere pronouncement of talaq has also failed to consider the plight of undertrials and the overburdened judiciary in the criminal justice system in the country, it said.

Earlier, 'Samastha Kerala Jamiathul', a religious organisation of the Sunni Muslim scholars from Kerala also filed plea in the top court, contending the law, specific to a class of persons based on religious identity, was causative of grave public mischief, which, if unchecked, may lead to polarization and disharmony in society.

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