A Muslim woman, who was divorced by her husband through a phone call from Dubai, has challenged the Muslim practices of polygamy, triple talaq (talaq-e-bidat) and nikah halala, leading the Supreme Court to seek response from the Centre on her plea on Friday. Talaq-e-bidat is a Muslim man divorcing his wife by pronouncing more than one talaq in a single tuhr (the period between two menstruations), or in a tuhr after coitus, or pronouncing an irrevocable instantaneous divorce at one go (unilateral triple-talaq).
Nikah halala refers to the marriage of a woman with another man who subsequently divorces her so that her previous husband can remarry her. While dealing with the plea of the 26-year-old woman from Kolkata whose husband divorced her by saying talaq thrice over telephone from Dubai, a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, issued notice to Ministry of Minority Affairs and others.
The court tagged the petition, filed through advocate V K Biju, with a bunch of other pleas which are scheduled to come up for hearing on September 6. Petitioner Ishrat Jahan has sought a declaration from the court that Section 2 of Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 was unconstitutional as it violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (equality), 15 (non-discrimination), 21 (life) and 25 (religion) of the Constitution "in so far as it seeks to recognise and validate talaq-e-bidat (triple talaq) as a valid form of divorce".
"My husband and his relatives are constantly attempting to drive me out of my matrimonial home," Jahan said, adding that her four children were also forcibly taken away from her. "The petitioner does not have any support as her parents are residing in Bihar. She is surviving with her sister's help. The police are also not making any effort to trace her children," the petition said while seeking urgent directions from the court for her and her children's protection.
On June 29, the apex court had agreed to examine the issue and said that a divorce through 'triple talaq' among the Muslim community was a "very important matter affecting a large section of people", which has to be tested on the "touchstone of the constitutional framework". The apex court had taken suo motu cognizance of the question whether Muslim women faced gender discrimination in cases of divorce or due to other marriages of their husbands and urged Chief Justice of India to set up a bench to examine the issue.
Subsequently, various other petitions including one by triple talaq victim Shayara Bano were filed challenging the age-old practice of 'triple talaq' among the Muslim community. All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Jamiat-e-Ulema had defended triple talaq and said it was part of Quran-dictated personal law which was beyond the ambit of judicial scrutiny.