Supreme Court reserves its order in triple talaq case

SC asks Muslim law board if women can be given option of saying 'no' to triple talaq

Telling the court that it had no role in the matter of Muslim personal law, and "parliament alone can decide what to do", Sibal took a dig at Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi telling the court on Monday that it should strike down the all three forms of talaq amongst Muslims and centre would enact a new divorce law.

The six-day hearing was conducted on a clutch of petitions challenging triple talaq, polygamy and "nikah halala" and was heard by a five-member Constitution bench of the apex court which included judges from different religious communities including Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, and Parsi. "The system itself say it is horrendous and bad", the bench, also comprising justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, U U Lalit and Abdul Nazeer, said.

While seeking response from former Union Minister and senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing AIMPLB, the bench said, "Don't infer anything from our side". They have undertaken some reforms asking people not to do it.

"Substantiating my view with reasons and examples, I asserted that it can not be justified and can not be given law's validation", Khurshid said during the hearing. How can a sinful practice be said to be a matter of faith. Triple talaq is an obnoxious and medieval practice to grant illegal rights to a husband and has absolutely no sanction in the Koran. "What we say is court is not the forum to take a decision".

Describing the issue before the court as something not between the majority and the minority communities but an intra minority issue of tussle between Muslim men and women - which he said was a tussle between haves (men) and have-nots (women). "Even Article 25 [freedom of religion] is subject to fundamental rights", Mr. Rohatgi responded.

Sibal further argued that just like the Hindus' faith about Rama's birth at Ayodhya can not be questioned, similarly Triple Talaq which is also a matter of faith for Muslims should not be questioned.

India's current government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, favors such a law.

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"Same is the case (with triple talaq).The Constitution of India recognises "personal law" of all religious denominations being communities and protects their faith by making them immune from challenge under Part III of the Constitution", Sibal told the five-judge Constitution bench on Tuesday.

The top court is now hearing the practice of instant divorce in Islam by saying "talaq" three times, known as tripletalaq, whether it is fundamental to the religion.

"The only right, the only remedy to the citizens is to come to this court which is the custodian of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution".

"There is a little difference in my and personal law board's opinion", he said.

Comparing practices in Islamic countries, Rohatgi said that in 25 nations, religion continued to strive even after abolishing triple talaq and hence, this can not be termed as "integral part of Islam".

Earlier in the hearing, the apex court refused to hear all the three cases of Polygamy, Nikah and Halala at once, saying it would focus on one matter at a time.

Senior counsel Indira Jaising appearing for one the petitioner challenging the constitutional validity of triple talaq in her rejoinder arguments said that the court was looking at the issue in the context of 67 years when fundamental rights came into force and not 1400 years since the birth of Islam.

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