- Hearing by 5-judge Constitution Bench will begin on March 11
- The Bench will examine the legality of triple talaq and polygamy
- Government says such practices violate fundamental rights of women
"If we don't take up these cases, they will be pending for years," the Chief Justice said.
When senior advocates -- including former law minister Kapil Sibal -- objected to the top court's benches working during the summer vacation, Chief Justice Khehar said, "There are three important issues we are taking up during the vacation. These are matters pending and if you don't want us to take them up, then don't say huge pendency of cases in the Supreme Court."
A bunch of petitions had been filed in the top court opposing triple talaq after women complained of being divorced on Facebook and WhatsApp. But the court has said instead of looking at individual cases, it would take a call on whether practices like triple talaq and polygamy -- which violate women's rights -- can be upheld under the right to religion. Whether the law should be changed thereafter, by measures such as the uniform civil code, will be left to the legislature, the court had said.
The court took up the matter after the Centre's posed four questions regarding the triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy.
The NDA government has long contended that such practices violate the fundamental rights of women guaranteed by the Constitution. It also insists that it does not form a part of the "essential religious practices" in Islam. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said ideally, the government wants triple talaq to be abolished completely.
The personal law board contends that Muslim practices such as polygamy and triple talaq are matters of "legislative policy" that could not be interfered with by the judiciary.
While triple talaq allows Muslim men get instant divorce by saying "talaq" three times, nikah halala bars a man from remarrying his divorced wife unless she consummates her marriage with another man, and her new husband dies or divorces her.