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  India   All India  11 Apr 2017  Triple talaq must go: Government in Supreme Court

Triple talaq must go: Government in Supreme Court

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Apr 11, 2017, 1:37 am IST
Updated : Apr 11, 2017, 1:39 am IST

It submitted that the practice of polygamy is a social practice rather than a religious one and therefore would not be protected under Article 25.

The Centre said that Muslim women in India are more vulnerable because of the prevalence of such practices, even though they live in a secular country. (Photo: PTI)
 The Centre said that Muslim women in India are more vulnerable because of the prevalence of such practices, even though they live in a secular country. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that talaq-e-bidat, nikah halala (forms of divorce) and polygamy are not protected under the right to religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution, and prayed for the quashing these pernicious practices.

In its written submissions in the triple talaq case, which will be heard by a Constitution Bench from today, the Centre said the basic question before the court is whether, in a secular democracy, religion can be a reason to deny equal status and dignity available to Muslim women under the Constitution.

The Centre submitted that gender equality and the dignity of women are non-negotiable, overarching constitutional values and that there can be no compromise on this.

It submitted that the practices under challenge impact the social status and dignity of Muslim women and render them unequal and vulnerable vis-à-vis men in their own community, women from communities and Muslim women outside India.

The Centre said that Muslim women in India are more vulnerable because of the prevalence of such practices, even though they live in a secular country. It submitted that the practice of polygamy is a social practice rather than a religious one and therefore would not be protected under Article 25. This is also true of nikah halala and triple talaq, it submitted.

These practices, it said, deny Muslim women the full enjoyment of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution, who comprise a very sizable proportion of India’s population (approximately 8 per cent, i.e. 96.68 million, as per 2011 census) and yet remain extremely vulnerable, both socially as well as financially.

Even though only some women are directly affected by these practices, the fact remains that every woman lives under the threat, fear or prospect of these practices being invoked against her, which in turn impacts her status, her choices, her conduct and her right to a life with dignity.

It is extremely significant to note that a large number of Muslim countries, such as, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt, Iran and Sri Lanka, have undertaken significant reforms and have regulated divorce law and polygamy. Even theocratic states have undergone reform in this area of the law and therefore in a secular republic like India there is no reason to deny women the rights available under the Constitution, the Centre told the Supreme Court.

The fact that Muslim countries have undergone extensive reform would also belie the case that the practices in question are an essential religious practice, the Centre said and prayed for quashing this pernicious practice of triple talaq form of divorce.

Tags: centre, supreme court, triple talaq, muslim women
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi