New Delhi: The five judge constitutional bench, which started hearing the triple talaq case on Thursday, refused to entertain any submissions with regard to polygamy and stated that “polygamy was not a part of the issue of triple talaq”.
Chief Justice of India, JS Khehar, who was heading the five judge bench stated that the bench was “limiting itself to the question of triple talaq and the consequential question of Nikah Halala”, but was not considering the domain of polygamy.
Interestingly, there was almost no defence from the counsels when the bench decided not to hear anything on polygamy.
Justice Kurian Joseph said, “Polygamy is not a part of triple talaq, and hence we are not looking into it. We are only limiting ourselves to triple talaq and Nikah Halala is only consequential to the practice of unilateral divorce.”
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Justice Joseph continued that “inheritance and polygamy were not a part of the triple talaq issue.” However, advocate Indira Jaising requested the court to form an “order of address” when the court declined to decide on polygamy.
The issue of polygamy had garnered a lot of heat in the run up to the apex court hearing with hundreds of Muslim women complaining of the fact that they were given talaq, and immediately after that the man married another woman. There were also cases where men had married another woman even before pronouncing talaq.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board had, however, earlier stated that polygamy was “a non-issue among Muslims as the rate of polygamy among other religions was far higher than Muslims”.
However, Muslim groups who had been demanding to abolish triple talaq till yesterday also wanted the court to strike down polygamy. Dr Syed Tanveer of Joint Action Committee from West Bengal told News18 that polygamy must be abolished by the court.
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“There can be no practice which is against the constitution, basic human rights and violates gender justice. Hence, polygamy has to be struck down,” said Dr Tanveer.
Even Noorjehan Safia Niaz, founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, told News18 that their public interest litigation had polygamy as a part of it and may be now there needs to be a fresh petition demanding the abolishment of polygamy at a later date to make SC ponder over it.
“We are okay with the SC deciding not to interfere in polygamy at the moment, but this issue will be brought up by our organization later on… maybe through a petition,” said Niaz.
Polygamy in Islam has been allowed for a man and he can marry up to four wives according to the Sunni school of thought. But this is not without conditions, as Islam states that a man can only marry again if the previous wife explicitly consents to it and the husband has the means to maintain equality among all the wives. However, this practice has been abused by the community members and has led to a massive outrage among the Muslim women who often suffer in silence.