Debate over triple talaq, other Muslim personal laws may be referred to a Constitution bench

The Centre submitted questions to the Supreme Court, seeking to determine whether the divorce law, nikah halala and polygamy violated fundamental rights.

The Supreme Court may refer the debate over triple talaq to a Constitution bench, as the Centre on Thursday submitted four questions seeking to determine the constitutional validity of the practice, as well as of polygamy and nikah halala – all part of Muslim personal laws.

“An important aspect of the issues projected is whether triple talaq is a fundamental trait of religion...If the answer to the question is affirmative, then the entire issue will have to be examined from a very different constitutional perspective,” observed the bench led by Chief Justice JS Khehar and justices NV Ramana and DY Chandrachud, according to The Times of India.

The questions – framed by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi – were submitted through advocate Madhavi Divan to help the court decide whether such personal laws can be blamed for being discriminatory against Muslim women under the Constitution, which stands for equality for all citizens. The Centre has sought to know whether marriage, divorce and inheritance can be regulated under the Constitution’s Article 13 instead of civil codes, Mint reported. Article 13 looks into laws that are inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights.

After the counsel for the Muslim Personal Law Board called for a detailed hearing on the subject, which could extend to two weeks, the apex court told all representing advocates to cooperate and take this opportunity to come to a final consensus on the matter. The bench requested all parties to frame questions, list their opinions with reasoning and case laws and submit their filings to the attorney general by March 30.

The Supreme Court has been hearing a number of petitions related to the triple talaq debate. On Tuesday, the bench refused to club the subject of Uniform Civil Code with the Muslim personal law, saying they were two separate subjects. On October 7, the Centre had taken an official stand against triple talaq and polygamy, telling the top court that gender equality was non-negotiable.

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