SC to hear plea for safeguarding rights of Muslim women

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the listing of a PIL filed on the direction of one of its benches to address the issue of the rights of Muslim women, including discrimination being faced by them in the matter of arbitrary divorces, after three weeks.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy directed the listing of the matter after three weeks, as the matter came up for hearing for the first time after it was directed to be placed before Chief Justice Dattu by the October 16 order of a bench of the apex court.

The apex court bench of Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel by their October 16 order issued notice to Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and the National Legal Service Authority as it directed the separate listing of a PIL addressing the question of the rights of Muslim women.

Referring to the suggestion by some of the lawyers that a separate PIL may be registered to go into the question of rights of Muslim women, the court had said: “We are of the view that the suggestion needs consideration in view of earlier decision of this court. The issue has also been highlighted in recent articles appearing in the press on this subject.”

While directed a separate PIL, the court had referred to an “important issue of gender discrimination” which was not connected with the matter being dealt by the court but was raised by some lawyers concerning the rights of Muslim women.

The court noted the submission by the lawyers which said that “inspite of guarantee of the constitution, Muslim women are subjected to discrimination.

There is no safeguard against arbitrary divorce and second marriage by her husband during currency of the first marriage, resulting in denial of dignity and security to her.”

The court by its October 16 order had noted that several times the issue of safeguarding the Muslim women from arbitrary divorce had come up before the court but every time it was said that since the “challenge to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 was pending before the Constitution Bench and there was no reason to multiply proceedings on such an issue.”

Urging the court to consider the issue of the rights of Muslim women, it was pointed out by the lawyers that the “matter needs consideration by this Court as the issue relates not merely to a policy matter but to fundamental rights of women under Articles 14, 15 and 21 and international conventions and covenants.”

The court by its October 16 order had said this in the second part of its judgment in a batch of matters on the issue whether Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, had retrospective effect.