SC to examine plea challenging Triple Talaq law

Seeks a response from the Centre on the petition

India's parliament passed on July 30 a law against the controversial Muslim practice of "instant divorce", making it a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison. (Photo by AFP)

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Union government on petitions challenging validity of the law that made the practice of pronouncing 'Triple Talaq' by Muslim men as a punishable offence with maximum three-year jail term.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana and Ajay Rastogi agreed to examine the validity of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, passed by Parliament on July 31.

After issuing notice to the Centre, the bench, however, sought to know from senior advocate Salman Khurshid if a practice, which has been declared as null and void like dowry and child marriage, can't be made a punishable offence.

Samastha Kerala Jamiathul', a Kerala-based religious organisation of the Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics with its general secretary, Alikutty Musliyar, contended there is no reasonableness or constitutional logic for making the procedural infirmity in effecting divorce a punishable offence for members of Muslim community.

It said the law with penal legislation, 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.

Besides, Mumbai-based Jamiat Ulama-I- Hind claimed the law was unconstitutional for violating the fundamental rights to equality, non-discrimination, life and liberty and for being excessive and disproportionate.

It said no such law was required as the practice has already been declared void and illegal by the Supreme Court's Constitution bench in 'Shayara Bano' case in 2017.

The organisation 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.

But with 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.

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