Five-judge Constitution bench will sit during vacation.
New Delhi: The Chief Justice of India said on Thursday that a decision on the legality of triple talaq — the practice of Muslim men divorcing their wives by saying talaq thrice — is crucial and that’s why a five-judge Constitution Bench will sit during the summer vacation to hear the case.
The triple talaq matter will be taken up by the Supreme Court from May 11 to May 19.
Responding to reservations expressed by senior advocates — including former law minister Kapil Sibal and attorney general Mukul Rohatgi — Chief Justice Khehar said, “There are three important issues we are taking up during the vacation. These are matters pending and if we don’t take up these cases, they will be pending for years… then don’t say huge pendency of cases in the Supreme Court.”
The two-judge bench, comprising CJI Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, said that it was open to hearing the matter even on Saturday and Sunday during the summer vacation.
Replying to Mr Rohatgi’s contention that setting up three Constitution Benches during the summer vacation will consume the entire vacation, Justice Khehar said, “If you say you do not want to do it (during vacation) then do not blame us. Last time, I kept on writing the judgments during the whole vacation. We have to work together. If you do not want us to work together, I will be very happy enjoying my vacation, but then do not tell us so many years have passed and the matter has not been heard.”
The court will also consider the constitutional validity of the practice of nikah halala and polygamy among Muslims.
The case relates to a batch of petitions — including by the Centre — on whether divorce by saying talaq three times is legal, or whether it impinges on equal rights or in this case, women’s rights, and whether fundamental right to freedom of religion takes precedence over basic freedoms, among other things.
The other two cases the court is hearing during the summer vacation are whether children of illegal migrants from Bangladesh born in India should get citizenship rights and whether Facebook’s access to details of calls, messages, photographs and documents exchanged by WhatsApp users in India violates citizens’ right to privacy.