Supreme Court seeks Attorney General's help on Muslim women's equality

Top court has sought Attorney General's assistance on Muslim woman's right to equality issue.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought the assistance of the Attorney General Muklul Rohatgi to examine the rights of Muslim woman to claim equality in issues concerning marriage, divorce and maintenance under the Muslim Personal law.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justices A.K. Sikri and Ms. R. Banumathi asked the A-G to render assistance in the matter and posted the matter for further hearing after six weeks.

The apex court in October last in a suo motu writ petition decided to examine various issues on the ground that Muslim Personal law is discriminatory to Muslim women and whether the current practices under Muslim Personal Law regarding marriage, divorce and maintenance are violative of fundamental rights of the Constitution. A two-judge bench had referred the issue to the CJI for posting before a larger bench. Accordingly the matter came today before a three-judge bench.

Meanwhile Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind an organisation working for the welfare of Muslims in an impleadment application stating that since the present matter involves a question of Muslim Personal Laws, the view of the Muslim Community must also be considered.

It pointed out that the SC on earlier occasions had considered the issues, Whether Muslim Personal Law which allows polygamy is void as offending Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution; Whether Muslim Personal Law which enables a Muslim male to give unilateral Talaq to his wife without her consent and without resort to judicial process of courts, is void as it offends Articles 13, 14 and 15 of the Constitution and whether the mere fact that a Muslim Husband takes more than one wife is an act of cruelty and declined to entertain these issues stating that these were matters wholly involving issues of State Policies with which the Court will not ordinarily have any concern.

The apex Court had also held that these issues are matters which are to be dealt with by the legislature. The applicant said Mohammedan law is founded essentially on the Quran and thus cannot fall within the purview of the expression “laws in force” as mentioned in Article 13 of the Constitution, and hence its validity cannot be tested on a challenge based on Part III of the Constitution. In view of such clear provisions, if this Court frames fresh provisions, it will amount to judicial legislation and will be violative of the doctrine of separation of powers, it said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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