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Before SC hearing, Modi govt builds case against Nikah Halala, polygamy

In an affidavit to be filed by ASG Tushar Mehta in SC, the Centre has decided to reiterate its stand taken during the triple talaq case and oppose the practices as “unconstitutional”

, ET Bureau|
Jul 16, 2018, 09.38 AM IST
Govt may highlight the fact that many countries with a large Muslim population and where Islam is the state religion have regulated polygamy and divorce laws.
At a time when the triple talaq bill is expected to be taken up for discussion and passage in the Rajya Sabha in the monsoon session, the government is likely to take a firm stand in the Supreme Court against polygamy and contract marriages such as Nikah Halala.

ET has learnt that in an affidavit to be filed by the additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta as a response to a petition challenging the two practices being heard by the top court, the Centre has decided to reiterate its stand taken during the triple talaq case and oppose the practices as “unconstitutional” and an attack on gender justice and equality.

While polygamy allows for a Muslim man to have several wives, Nikaah Halala is the practice of temporary marriage and divorce that makes it permissible for an already divorced woman to remarry her previous husband in certain sects. Both practices have been blamed as contributors to the poor socio-economic status of Muslim women.

In the affidavit, the government is expected to also highlight the fact that many countries with an overwhelmingly large Muslim population and where Islam is the state religion have undertaken reforms in this area and regulated polygamy and divorce laws.

Sources in the know of the matter said the government is likely argue that if countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh can have regulating laws around polygamy, so can India.

triple talaq_bccl

Apart from Pakistan and Bangladesh, the government affidavit in the top court is likely to list at least 13 other countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran and Sri Lanka where polygamy has either been banned or regulated by the law.

Afghanistan has completely banned the practice of Nikah Halala. While expressing its stand against triple talaq when the issue was being heard in the Supreme Court, the government had stated the same argument expressing its stand then on polygamy and had cited how other countries have regulated their laws on polygamy and divorce.

The apex court is also slotted to hear a petition filed by Farzana through advocate Vivek Narayan Sharma on July 20. This is among several other petitions in the Supreme Court demanding to scrap polygamy and Nikah Halala.

In March this year, a three-judge Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had issued notices to the union government and the attorney general on a petition filed by Delhi-based woman, Sameena Begum, who alleged that she was subjected to cruelty in her marriage over dowry and eventually dumped by the first husband. She claimed that her second husband, a married man, divorced her illegally through triple talaq.

Though several people including BJP leader Ashwini Upadhayay had filed petitions against these practices, the Supreme Court issued notices only on Sameena Begum’s petition since she was the affected person.

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