Kerala Muslim Body Moves SC Against New Law Criminalising Triple Talaq; Another Plea in Delhi HC

File photo of the Supreme Court of India.

File photo of the Supreme Court of India.

Samastha Kerala Jamiathul Ulema, a religious organisation of Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics in the state, has sought that the court declare the new law as unconstitutional.

New Delhi: The newly enacted law that makes the practice of instant divorce through 'triple talaq' among Muslims a punishable offence was challenged in the Supreme Court on Friday.

A similar petition challenging the new legislation was also filed in the Delhi High Court on the same day.

A day after President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, 'Samastha Kerala Jamiathul Ulema', a religious organisation of Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics in Kerala, moved court seeking to declare it as unconstitutional.

"The Act has introduced penal legislation, specific to a class of persons based on religious identity. It is causative of grave public mischief, which, if unchecked, may lead to polarisation and disharmony in society," the plea said.

The organisation, claiming to be the largest Muslim body in Kerala in terms of the number of followers, submitted that the legislation is class-specific to Muslims and the intent behind the Act is not the abolition of triple talaq but punishment of Muslim husbands.

"Section 4 imposes a maximum sentence of three years' imprisonment when a Muslim husband pronounces triple talaq. The offence is cognisable and non-bailable as per Section 7," the plea said. It claimed that the Act is violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution and thus, is liable to be struck down.

The plea said that if the motive was to protect a Muslim wife in "an unhappy marriage", no reasonable person can believe that the means to ensure it is by putting an "errant husband in jail for three years and create a non-bailable offence for merely saying 'Talaq Talaq Talaq'".

The new law makes 'talaq-e-biddat' or any other similar form of talaq having the effect of instantaneous and irrevocable divorce pronounced by a Muslim husband void and illegal. It makes it illegal to pronounce talaq three times — spoken, written, or through SMS or WhatsApp or any other electronic chat — in one sitting.

"Any pronouncement of talaq by a Muslim husband upon his wife, by words, either spoken or written or in electronic form or in any other manner whatsoever, shall be void and illegal," the law says.

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