The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider to list for urgent hearing petitions challenging the practice of polygamy and “nikah halala” among Muslims.
Muslim men are allowed to have four wives. The practice of “nikah halala” bars a man from remarrying his former wife unless she has married another man, consummated that marriage and divorced him. The woman is also expected to observe a separation period called “iddat” before she reconciles with her first husband.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said, “We will look into it.” They did not give a date, however, PTI reported. The court was hearing the submissions of senior advocate V Shekhar, who sought that the petitions be listed before a five-judge Constitution Bench.
Lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, who is appearing for one of the petitioners, also told the court that she was being threatened to withdraw the petition.
The court also allowed the central government to file a response in the matter.
The petitions challenge the two practices on the grounds that they violate the Right to Equality and the principle of gender justice. One of the petitioners has said that the Muslim Personal Law renders Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code – marrying again during the lifetime of husband or wife – inapplicable to Muslims, and that no married woman from the community could file a complaint against her husband for bigamy.
In March, the Supreme Court had said it will examine the constitutional validity of practices such as polygamy and nikah halala among Muslims and asked the Centre and the Law Commission to clarify the positions on abolishing the practices.