The Kerala-based Samastha Kerala Jamaithul Ulema has moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the recently-enacted the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, which provides for imprisonment for men for divorcing their wives by pronouncing “triple talaq” in one go.
The petitioner has sought the declaration that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 notified on July 31, 2019 is violate of Articles 14, 15, 21 and 123 of the Constitution of India and, thus, unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Seeking a stay on the operation of the Act till the plea is decided by the court, the organisation has contended that the law, directed at the Muslim community, has national ramifications.
“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 petition stated, invoking Article 32 of the Constitution, which deals with the protection of fundamental rights.
The intent behind the Act, the petition stated, is not the “abolition of triple talaq but punishment of Muslim husbands” as Section 4 of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act provides for a three-year sentence.
The organisation also contended that the creation of an offence may be the prerogative of the legislature, but the government is duty bound to act “reasonably and sensibly, not merely in administrative matters but sovereign matters” as well.
It has further contended that there is no “informed assessment or study that forms basis for the Central government to have created this offence”.