New Delhi: The Modi government in New Delhi on Thursday submitted in the Supreme Court a list of issues for adjudication including the question whether fundamental right to practice and propagate one's religion protected the practice of triple talaq, 'halala' and polygamy among Muslims.
The NDA government has, for the first time in India's constitutional history, opposed in the top court such prevalent practices among Muslims on grounds like gender equality, secularism and binding international covenants, news agency PTI reported.
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar perused the four questions framed by the Centre and said they were "constitutional" ones which need to be dealt with by a five-judge bench.
The first issue was whether the practices of triple talaq, 'halala' and polygamy are protected under Article 25(1) of the Constitution.
The Article says: "Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion."
The government then raised the question whether the right to practice and propagate religion is subject to other equally important rights, that is right to equality (Article 14) and right to life (Article 21) of the Constitution.
It then referred to Article 13 which provides that any law is void if it is not in conformity of the constitutional scheme and framed the issue whether the Muslim personal law amenable to this provision or not.
The fourth issue, framed for the consideration of the apex court, said these practices are compatible with India's obligations under international treaties and covenants to which nation is a signatory.
Earlier, the Centre, in its affidavit, had opposed these practices among Muslims by referring to constitutional principles like gender equality, secularism, international covenants, religious practices and marital law prevalent in various Islamic countries.
"It is submitted that the issue of validity of triple talaq, nikah halala and polygamy needs to be considered in the light of principles of gender justice and the over-riding principle of non-discrimination, dignity and equality," it had said.
Differences on practice of triple talaq or concurrent talaq persisted among Muslim jurists since the tenure of Caliph Omar (RA). Till then concurrent talaq was considered as one.
Though the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) a party in the case is adamant on its stand about triple talaq, renowned Muslim scholars and some senior board members based on the evidences in the Quran and Sunnah are urging the board to re-consider its stand and agree for reform.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday directed all the parties to submit issues for discussion. The apex court also said it intends to pronounce its verdict on the case by May 11.