Lawyer writes to SC seeking early hearing of pleas on Polygamy

New Delhi: An advocate has written to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde seeking early hearing of pleas challenging the practices of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims.

A three-judge bench comprising the CJI and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant, on December 2, 2019, directed its registry to list the matter immediately after the winter vacations before an appropriate bench.

Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay said the matter deserves to be heard at the earliest as the issue is of public importance, gender justice, gender equality and dignity of women.

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The Supreme court had in July 2018 considered the plea and referred the matter to a constitution bench that has been already asked to hear a batch of similar petitions.

According to the petitioner, a ban on polygamy has long been the need of the hour in the interest of public order and health.

The apex court had issued notice to the Centre on the petition filed by one Farjana and tagged Upadhyay’s plea along with a batch of petitions to be heard by the constitution bench.

The petition by the lawyer also sought a declaration that the extra-judicial talaq’ is cruelty under Section 498A of the IPC, nikah halala’ an offence under Section 375 of the IPC, and polygamy an offence under Section 494 of the IPC, 1860.

The apex court on August 22, 2017 had banned the age-old practice of instant ‘triple talaq’ among Sunni Muslims. It had on March 26, 2018 decided to refer to a larger bench a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims.

While polygamy allows a Muslim man to have four wives, ‘nikah halala’ is a process in which a Muslim woman, who wants to re-marry her husband after divorce, has to first marry another person and get a divorce from the second person after consummating the marriage.

The pleas were referred to a larger bench by the Supreme Court after an earlier five-judge constitution bench, in its 2017 verdict, had kept open the issue of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’, while quashing the practice of ‘triple talaq’.

It had also issued notices to the Law and Justice Ministry, the Minority Affairs Ministry and the National Commission of Women (NCW).

Some petitions have also challenged the practices of ‘Nikah Mutah’ and ‘Nikah Misyar’ — two types of temporary marriages where the duration of the relationship is specified and agreed upon in advance.

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