NEW DELHI: After moving to criminalise instant triple talaq, the Centre is all set to throw its weight behind a clutch of petitions filed in the Supreme Court to declare “nikah halala” and polygamy “unconstitutional”. Sources said the Centre would extend its support to petitioners when the matter comes up next in the SC, which earlier this year agreed to hear the petitions.
Nikah halala is a controversial practice which forbids adivorced couple from remarrying until the woman marries someone else, consummates her new marriage and gets divorced or widowed. While defended by the clergy, the practice has been slammed by women’s activists who have called it retrograde and anti-women and have petitioned the SC to get it banned.
Having agreed to hear the petitions on the matter, the SC earlier issued notice to the Centre and the law ministry. The SC also directed the Centre to respond to the plea seeking to declare the provisions of Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) which validate the practice of polygamy and nikah halala as unconstitutional. The Centre is gearing up to put forth its stand by backing the petitions challenging the two practices, sources said.
The Centre’s plan comes even as Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), a voluntary organisation which successfully petitioned the SC against instant talaq, has decided to join the petitioners who are seeking an end to nikah halala and polygamy.
Zakia Soman of BMMA told TOI, “We are seeking a comprehensive law regulating all aspects of marriage and family by a Quranic-based law that complies with the Constitution too. We want halala to be a criminal offence and polygamy to be illegal. We believe the Quran doesn’t permit polygamy in today’s context. We are seeking legal protection like that for Hindu and Christian women.”