New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party led NDA Government at the Centre today opposed in the Supreme Court the practice of ‘Nikah Halala’ (triple talaq) and polygamy among Muslims and pressed for a review on grounds of gender equality and secularism.
The Ministry of Law and Justice, today filed an affidavit in the Apex Court referring to principle of gender equality and secularism enshrined in the Constitution and international covenants, religious practices and the law relating to marriage in different Islamic countries to drive home the point that the practice of triple talaq and polygamy needed to be adjudicated by the apex court.
Through the affidavit filed by Government of India, it has been submitted that the “issue of validity of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy needs to be considered in the light of principles of gender justice and the overriding principle of non-discrimination, dignity and equality.”
Linking the issue with the Right to Life and Personal Liberty, the Centre has saod in its 29-page affidavit that “gender equality and the dignity of the women are non-negotiable, overarching constitutional value and can brook no compromise.”
The Centre has responded to a batch of petitions including the one filed by Shayaro Bano to challenge the triple talaq under Muslim personal law. Under this practice, a man only has to speak the word ‘talaq’ thrice to divorce his wife.
“The fundamental question for determination by this court is whether, in a secular democracy, religion can be a reason to deny equal status and dignity available to women under the Constitution of India,” the affidavit says adding: “These Rights are necessary in letter and in spirit not only to realise the aspirations of every individual woman who is an equal citizen of this country but also for the larger well-being of the society and progress of the nation, one half of which is made up by women”.
The affidavit also states: “any practice by which women are left ‘socially, financially or emotionally vulnerable’ or subject to the whims and caprice of men-folk is incompatible with the letter and spirit of Article 14 and 15 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution”.