SC agrees to urgent listing of pleas against nikah halala
Just days after a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court, seeking to challenge the practice of nikah halala, the apex court, on Monday, agreed to the urgent listing of pleas against it. The decision came after lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, representing petitioner Sameena Begum, alleged that she had been threatened and asked to withdraw the petition against the practice.
The petition alleged that by virtue of Muslim Personal Law, IPC Section 494, which addresses the issue of marrying again during the lifetime of husband or wife, was rendered inapplicable to Muslims, thereby preventing Muslim women from filing complaints against their husbands for bigamy/polygamy.
On Monday, a bench comprising CJI Dipak Misra, and justices DY Chandrachud and AM Khanwilkar considered the submissions of senior advocate V Shekhar that the petitions against the practice be listed before a five-judge constitution bench for final adjudication. The bench also allowed additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, to file a response to the petitions against the practice.
Nikah Halala is a controversial practice that forbids a divorced woman from re-marrying her first husband until she marries another man and consummates the marriage. Activists, who are against nikah halala, have argued this leads to trafficking and women are forced to sleep with other men for one night. On the other hand, the clergy defended the practice saying it didn't exist in India.
An investigation by India Today concluded religious leaders offered to sleep with divorced women, who were desperate to save their marriages, for one night in exchange for money. The maulvis charged anything between Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 1.5 lakh; and boasted of their 'achievements'.