The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and the Law Commission to respond to a plea challenging the constitutional validity of the practice of polygamy and halala among the Muslim community. The apex court, which agreed to examine the plea, said a fresh five-judge bench would be set up to look into the matter.

The three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Kanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud issued the notices on at least three petitions that were seeking a ban on polygamy and ‘nikah halala’.

Taking note of the previous five-judge constitution bench, which in its 2017 verdict kept open the issue while quashing triple talaq, the court directed that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice for setting up of an appropriate bench.

The petitions challenge the practice on various grounds including violation of Right to Equality and gender justice.

Polygamy in Islam allows a Muslim husband to have up to four wives. Nikah halala is a practice in which a divorced Muslim woman has to marry another person, consummate the marriage, and then divorce the second husband if she wishes to re-marry her first husband.

According to a report in The Indian Express, a petitioner, who claimed to be a victim of such practices, contended that the Muslim personal law rendered Section 494 (marrying again during the lifetime of husband or wife) of the IPC inapplicable to Muslims and no married woman from the community can file a complaint against her husband over bigamy.

 

In August 2017, the Supreme Court held triple talaq as unconstitutional calling it against the basic tenets of the Koran.

“In view of the different opinions recorded by a majority of 3:2, the practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ – triple talaq is set aside,” the five-judge constitution bench said in a 395-page order.