Supreme Court impleads NHRC, NCW in Muslim personal law case

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A five-judge Constitution Bench on Tuesday impleaded the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the National Commission of ladies (NCW) and therefore the National Commission of Minorities as parties during a batch of petitions challenging the Muslim Personal Law practices like polygamy and nikah halala.

The Supreme Court’s Bench led by Justice Indira Banerjee issued notices to the statutory bodies after senior advocate Shyam Diwan, for petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, sought their arraignment within the case.

The Supreme Court also issued notice in an exceedingly separate petition within the batch, which said the private law practices violated Section 494 of the Indian legal code.

The section makes “marrying again during the lifetime of husband or wife” an offence punishable with imprisonment up to seven years and fine.

The case are going to be listed after the Dasara holidays.

Mr. Upadhyay argues that polygamy and nikah halala (bar against remarriage with divorced husband without an intervening marriage with another man) are unconstitutional.

He has sought a declaration that Section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 violative of Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution, insofar because it seeks to recognise and validate polygamy and nikah halala.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had filed an application within the case, contending that this was a “cultural issue” and inextricably interwoven with the faith of Islam.

The Constitution allowed the continuance of the various practices of varied religions until the State succeeds in its endeavour to secure a regular Civil Code (UCC), the AIMPLB had said.

It had argued that private laws don't derive its validity from legislature or the other competent authority. Their sources were the scriptural texts of their respective religions.

The personal law don't fall within the definition of ‘laws’ under Article 13 of the Constitution. The validity of a private law can't be challenged on the idea of fundamental rights enshrined within the Constitution.

The Board had argued that the petitions were a push for a judicial pronouncement to bring the Uniform Civil Code.