A Muslim woman, allegedly thrown out of the house by her husband along with their three minor children, has moved Supreme Court with a plea to ban polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ prevalent in the community.

Polygamy is an act where the Sharia allows Muslim men to marry more than once without getting a divorce. In Nikah Halala, if a divorced Muslim couple wish to re-marry, then the wife will have to marry another man, consummate their wedding, get a divorce from him and then marry her previous husband. Both of these practices are unfair to Muslim women.

On March 26, the SC referred several petitions challenging the constitutional validity of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among the Muslims to a five-member constitution bench.

Petitioner Rani aka Sabnam said in her petition that she married Muzammil in 2010 and had two sons and one daughter. Her parents gave Rs 5 lakh, including gold and silver ornaments, as dowry during her marriage. But her husband subjected her to harassment. He then re-married and threw her out of their matrimonial house.

She wrote in the petition she filed through lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay that she is currently living with her in-laws in Bulandshahr town of Uttar Pradesh after neighbours came forward in their support.

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“The instant petition raises an important issue of General Public Interest i.e. prevalent practice of Polygamy, including Nikah-Halala, which is unconstitutional and even then the same is prevailing in our country. The said practices which certainly comes within the domain of personal law cannot be immune from judicial review under the constitution,” it said.

Plea may be heard this week

The plea may get a hearing in this week. It proposes that “extra-judicial talaq” amounts to cruelty and so this offence should come under Section 498A (subjecting a married woman to cruelty) of the IPC. A bench of five-judges, headed by Chief Justice Deepak Misra, is going to hear the case.

It also seeks that the bench declares Nikah Halala to be recognized as an offence under rape in the IPC. Union ministries of Woman and Child Welfare, Law and Minority Affairs and National Commission for Woman are relevant partners of the litigation.

The instant petition raises an important issue of General Public Interest i.e. prevalent practice of Polygamy, including Nikah-Halala, which is unconstitutional and even then the same is prevailing in our country

On April 23, an SC bench had asked the Centre to respond to a separate petition seeking provision to ban Polygamy and Nikaha Halala. It had also ordered the Centre to tag the petition of Naina Hasan from Lucknow in the same issue.

Hasan also filed her petition through Updhyay. She asked whether under a secular Constitution, women can get a social status vulnerable in comparison to a man only because she belongs to a particular religious group?

Picture credit- Wiki How

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