The Court is hearing three writ petitions challenging the constitutionality of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019.
The practice of talaq-e-biddat or triple talaq is where Muslim husbands can instantaneously and irrevocably divorce their wives by uttering the words ‘talaq talaq talaq’. In August 2017, the Supreme Court declared the practice unconstitutional in Shayara Bano. Thereafter, in September 2018, the Central Government promulgated the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018 where triple talaq was declared void, illegal and a non-bailable, cognizable offence punishable with up to 3 years of imprisonment and a fine.
The Central Government re-promulgated the Ordinance twice in January and February 2019 and Parliament thereafter passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, which was deemed to come into force from September 2018 onwards.
In the first week of August 2019, two organisations of Islamic scholars and the National President of the Rashtriya Ulema Council challenged the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 in three separate petitions. On 23 August 2019, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court directed the Union to respond to these constitutional challenges.
1. 1) Does the Act cause deprivation of liberty without proper justification in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution?
2. 2) Does the Act discriminate against Muslim men in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution?
3. 3) Is the Act ‘manifestly arbitrary’ in nature and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution?
4. 4) Does the Act prescribe excessive and disproportionate punishment on Muslim husbands?
5. 5) Is the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 necessary when triple talaq has already been declared unconstitutional in Shayara Bano?