The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, was challenged in the Supreme Court on Friday, reported PTI. The constitutional validity of the law, which criminalises instant divorce through triple talaq, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
The plea was filed by Samastha Kerala Jamiathul Ulema, which is a religious group of the Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics in Kerala. The petitioner has argued that the law was in violation of Articles 14 [equality before the law], 15 [prohibition of discrimination] and 21 [protection of life and personal liberty] of the Constitution.
The petition said that the Act had introduced penal legislation, which is directed towards a section of the population based on their religious identity. It added that the law could lead to serious “public mischief”, which may end up polarising the society, according to Bar and Bench. Therefore, the plea has requested the top court to strike down the legislation and sought a stay on its implementation.
A similar petition has also been filed in the Delhi High Court on Friday, challenging certain sections of the legislation.
The petition, filed by lawyer and social activist Shahid Ali sought the removal of sections 3 and 4 of the Act, IANS reported. The plea stated that the Supreme Court in 2017 had already declared the pronouncement of triple talaq unconstitutional, but the central government still went ahead and made it a criminal offence.
It also contended that the legislation made no provisions for reconciliation between the couple. The current law was also discriminatory towards Muslims, the plea said, adding that instances of desertions would increase due to it. The Delhi High Court is likely to hear the plea next week.
Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, or the triple talaq bill seeks to outlaw the practice of instant triple talaq, which Muslim men use to divorce their wives by uttering the word “talaq” thrice in spoken or written forms, or via electronic communication. It prescribes imprisonment of up to three years for the offence, and has a provision for subsistence allowance to the offender’s wife and children.