Can women say no to triple talaq at time of marriage: SC asks AIMPLB

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) whether a woman can be given be the right to deny triple talaq at the time of execution of marriage contract.

"Is it possible that Muslim women are given an option to say 'no' to triple talaq at the time of execution of nikahnama (Islamic marriage contract)," asked the bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph, R F Nariman, U U Lalit, and Abdul Nazeer.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar also said if all 'Qazis' can be asked to include this condition at the time of marriage.

While seeking response from former Union Minister and senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing AIMPLB, the bench said, "Don't infer anything from our side."

One of AIMPLB’s lawyers Yusuf Muchala responded saying that board's advisory is not mandatory for all Qazis to follow.

The hearing is on its fifth day on Wednesday of the hearing on a clutch of petitions challenging triple talaq, polygamy and 'nikah halala' which is going on before a bench comprising members of different religious communities including Sikh, Christian, Parsi, Hindu and Muslim.

On Tuesday, the law board had equated the issue of triple talaq with the belief that Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya, saying these were matters of faith and cannot be tested on grounds of constitutional morality.

Earlier, senior Congress leader and Advocate Kapil Sibal had represented the AIMPLB in the Supreme Court, arguing that triple talaq is a matter of faith and the court shouldn’t interfere with the same.

Citing the Ayodhya temple issue, Sibal said if Hindus’ faith about Lord Rama is not arguable, Muslims’ faith in triple talaq should also not be questioned. He said “When triple talaq is going on for 1,400 years, how can you say it is unconstitutional?”

Sibal had also said a tradition like triple talaq, which is centuries old, cannot be termed unconstitutional all of a sudden.

When Justice Kurian Joseph wanted to know what the community was doing if they feel that triple talaq was bad, Muchala, intervened and told court that “We are conscious that triple talaq is an undesirable form of divorce. We are trying to educate people. We are working on it, advising men not to resort to that practice.”

Sibal said this (triple talaq) is something which is not permanent or immutable. It is the community to get rid of them. We don’t want court or somebody else to tells us it is bad. You must accept other’s culture. If it is bad, educate them, have a dialogue with them. You (court) don’t ride roughshod over it. You enact a law if they accept it.”

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