The Supreme Court of India has decided to form a Constitution Bench to hear pleas against the practice of Nikah-Halala and polygamy among Muslims. On Thursday, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud stated that it would constitute a Constitution Bench to hear the matter. This decision came after advocate Ashwini Upadhyay requested an early hearing. The five-judge bench, which previously heard the case, had two of its members, Justices Indira Banerjee and Hemant Gupta, retire. The petitioners in this case have requested a ban on Nikah-Halala and polygamy, claiming that it makes Muslim wives vulnerable, insecure and infringes on their fundamental rights.
Nikah-Halala is a practice in which a divorced Muslim woman must marry someone else, consummate the marriage, and then get a divorce in order to remarry her first husband. Polygamy, on the other hand, is the practice of having more than one wife or husband at the same time. These cases were referred to a 5-judge Constitution bench by a 3-judge bench in March 2018. The petitions were filed by a few Muslim women, including Naisah Hasan, Sabnam, Farjana, and Sameena Begum, as well as advocates Ashwini Upadhyay and Mohsin Kathiri, challenging the constitutional validity of the Nikah-Halala and polygamy.
The petitioners have demanded that Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act be declared unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14 (right to equality), 15 (discrimination on the ground of religion), and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution, insofar as it seeks to recognize and validate the practice of Nikah Halala and polygamy.
This move by the Supreme Court has garnered attention from many people, and the decision to form a Constitution Bench to hear the case is being seen as an important step towards the resolution of this issue.