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Gender equality, dignity of women not negotiable: Centre tells SC

Center told judges that "even theocratic states have undergone reforms in this area of law" which reinforces that these practices cannot be considered an integral part of practice of Islam
Triple Talaq

In what can be called a bold move, Centre has expressed its opposition to ‘Triple talaq’ in an affidavit to Supreme Court on Friday. The affidavit states that triple talaq is not an essential religious practice in Islam. The government argued in the top court that the validity of triple talaq and polygamy has to be seen in the light of gender justice, equality and dignity of women.

The apex court  has been examining how much it can interfere in Muslim laws governing family-related issues as it hears a plea to end the practice which permits Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying talaq three times. The Muslim community in India has been granted permission to regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance through their own civil code, in our constitution.

On September 5, the apex court had given the central government four weeks to respond to a batch of petitions on the rights of Muslim women that challenged the practice of triple talaq. The additional solicitor general had sought more time for the Centre to file a response in the matter after the court issued it a notice earlier. The issue was brought up before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India TS Thakur.

The centre today said “gender equality and the dignity of women are not negotiable” and told judges that “even theocratic states have undergone reforms in this area of law” which reinforces that these practices cannot be considered an integral part of practice of Islam.

Meanwhile, the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board is set to file a petition in the Supreme Court demanding a ban on triple talaq and those that are given over email, SMS or by post.  At the same time, she clarified that the board is not in favour of a uniform civil code.

Earlier, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said the court cannot interfere in the religious freedom of minorities and “rewrite personal laws in the name of social reform”.

The petition being considered by the Supreme Court also seeks an end to polygamy and ‘halala’, which mandates that if a woman wants to go back to her husband after a divorce, she must first consummate her marriage with another man. The affidavit submitted by the centre has sparked a new row of debate in the country.

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