Supreme Court to examine Muslim personal law

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will examine to what extent courts can look into Muslim personal law, including triple talaq, if they violate the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.

An apex court bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said on Wednesday that it was an important issue concerning a large number of people and there were divergent views on the issue.

“We have to hear all of them and take a call to what extent courts can interfere in the Muslim personal laws if courts find they are in violation of the fundamental rights,” the bench said.

Describing the matter as serious and directing the next hearing on September 6, the court asked the parties to frame the issues.

The bench asked all the contesting parties, the central government included, to file their responses.

The court order came as it was told that the central government had not filed its response.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Thakur is hearing a PIL on the rights of Muslim women in the context of alleged arbitrary divorce by pronouncing triple talaq.

A bench of Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goal had on October 16, 2015 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.

Appearing for two petitioners, senior counsel Indira Jaisinh told the court that the personal laws should be subject to the regime of the fundamental rights.

The question that the court should address is “Whether the personal laws are subject to the regime of fundamental rights”, Jaisinh told the bench.

Senior counsel Anand Grover backed the position taken by Jaisinh. Grover had appeared for interveners Zakia Soman and Noor Jahan. He said triple talaq had no sanction in Islam.

Opposing the plea urging the court to examine the question of gender discrimination in Muslim personal law in the context of fundamental rights, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said that most of the issues being agitated before the court have already been settled.

The Board said the Muslim personal law were from the holy Quran and Ahadith of the Prophet and were not covered by Article 13 of the constitution. Thus it could not be tested on the touchstone of fundamental rights.

The bench on Wednesday refused to restrain the AIMPLB from speaking on the subject and the media from reporting them.

Appearing in person, advocate Farha Faiz had urged the court to restrain the AIMPLB from issuing “misleading statements” which were causing confusion and the media from carrying them.

The bench said that for now it would not restrain any one.

Farha Faiz runs an NGO Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality and is national president of the Rashtrawadi Muslim Mahila Sangh, which is associated with the RSS.

Assailing the AIMPLB, Farha Faiz wondered how a registered society could become the custodian of Muslim personal law.

“They say that Supreme Court can’t interfere in their matters even if they are wrong,” she told the bench, asking if that was so, where then was need for a constitution and constitutional courts.