A decision on the legality of triple talaq - the practice of Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying talaq thrice, is crucial and a five-judge Constitution Bench will sit during the summer vacation to examine the issue, the Supreme Court said today.
The Supreme Court will begin hearing the triple talaq case on May 11. All the parties have to file their replies within two weeks on the matter in the apex court.
Chief Justice of India Justice JS Khehar has said that the Supreme Court is ready to give up the summer vacation to hear the issue of triple talaq.
Justice Khehar called the matter as "issue of grave importance". The Supreme Court is ready to sit even on Saturdays and Sundays to hear the matter, Justice Khehar today said.
When senior advocates -- including former law minister Kapil Sibal -- objected to the top court's benches working during the summer vacation, Chief Justice Khehar said, "There are three important issues we are taking up during the vacation. These are matters pending and if you don't want us to take them up, then don't say huge pendency of cases in the Supreme Court."
"If we don't take up these cases, they will be pending for years," the Chief Justice added.
Justice Khehar put the ball in the Modi government's court saying, "It is for the Centre to decide if they can cooperate."
A bunch of petitions had been filed in the top court opposing triple talaq after women complained of being divorced on Facebook and WhatsApp. But the court has said instead of looking at individual cases, it would take a call on whether practices like triple talaq and polygamy which violate women's rights can be upheld under the right to religion. Whether the law should be changed thereafter, by measures such as the uniform civil code, will be left to the legislature, the court had said.
The apex court had earlier said it would decide issues pertaining to "legal" aspects of the practices of triple talaq, 'nikah halala' and polygamy among Muslims and would not deal with the question whether divorce under Muslim law needs to be supervised by courts as it falls under the legislative domain.
On March 27, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court that the pleas challenging such practices among Muslims were not maintainable as the issues fell outside the realm of judiciary.
The Board had also said that the validity of Mohammedan Law, founded essentially on the Holy Quran and sources based on it, cannot be tested on the particular provisions of the Constitution. It had said there was a need for "judicial restraint" before going into constitutional interpretation of these unless such an exercise becomes unavoidable.
While triple talaq allows Muslim men get instant divorce by saying "talaq" three times, nikah halala bars a man from remarrying his divorced wife unless she consummates her marriage with another man, and her new husband dies or divorces her.