The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine the validity of the law that makes the practice of instant divorce through triple talaq in the Muslim community a punishable offence, PTI reported. 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.
The court issued a notice to the Centre on a batch of petitions challenging the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019. The petitions were filed by Samastha Kerala Jamiathul Ulama, which is a religious group of the Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics in Kerala, philanthropic group Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, and Islamic scholar Amir Rashadi Madni.
A bench of Justices NV Ramana and Ajay Rastogi agreed to examine the matter after senior advocate Salman Khurshid argued that the court had declared triple talaq unconstitutional in August 2017, and there was no need to criminalise it, Live Law reported. “Why such a practice can’t be criminalised if it is still prevalent?” Ramana asked the lawyer.
Parliament passed the law criminalising instant triple talaq in July. In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lauded his government’s success in passing the law. “If we can take steps against ‘Sati’ custom, female foeticide, child marriage and dowry, then why not against instant triple talaq?” he had asked.
However, several civil society members had claimed the bill was a “complete charade” and said they would petition President Ram Nath Kovind urging him not to sign it into law. They said the government was pretending to save Muslim women even as others from the community were being lynched. “After the Supreme Court in 2017 already made the pronouncement of talaq in a single setting void in law, it is an absurdity to make a person uttering it criminally liable, facing three years of imprisonment,” they said.
The signatories to the statement said the bill did not care about justice for Muslim women as imprisoning offenders for three years would leave women at the mercy of their husbands’ family. They claimed the bill did not provide financial security to the woman and her children.