The Supreme Court has finally agreed to examine the constitutional validity of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ in the Muslim community. This came seven months after the apex court has declared instant triple talaq as unconstitutional.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered the submission that an earlier five-judge constitution bench, in its 2017 verdict, had kept open the issue of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ while quashing triple talaq.
The bench was hearing at least three petitions including some PILs challenging the practices on various grounds including that they violate Right to Equality and gender justice.
The apex court has issued notices to the Centre and the Law Commission asking them to make their stand clear on a batch of petitions asking the two practices be abolished.
What is Polygamy and Nikah Halala?
While polygamy allows a Muslim man to have four wives, ‘nikah halala’ deals with the process in which a Muslim woman has to marry another person and get divorced from him before being allowed to marry her divorcee husband again.
One petitioner has contended that while Muslim law allows a man practise polygamy but the same permission is not extended to women and therefore the law violates the fundamental rights of Muslim women.
Another petitioner said that has said that the Muslim Personal Law has rendered Section 494 of IPC (marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife) inapplicable to Muslims and no married woman from the community has the avenue to file a complaint against her husband for the offence of bigamy.
Delhi BJP leader Aswini Kumar Upadhyay also filed a PIL claiming that the ban on polygamy and ‘nikah-halala’ was the need of the hour to secure basic rights.