NEW DELHI: After triple talaq, practices of 'nikah halala' and polygamy are now all set to be scrutinized by the Supreme Court.
On Monday, the top court agreed to not just hear the matter but also made it clear that a larger constitution bench would hear the matter as was done in the case of triple talaq, which was eventually invalidated by the court.
While polygamy allows a Muslim man to have four wives, 'nikah halala' is a controversial practice which forbids a divorced couple from remarrying until the woman marries someone else, consummates her new marriage and gets divorced or widowed.
"We will look into it," a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on Monday said, adding that a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional and legal validity of these practices will be listed for hearing before a five-judge constitution bench after the Centre files its response.
The Centre has already said that it would oppose the two practices by backing the petitions that have been filed in the Supreme Court.
On Monday, the centre's Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the government will file its response to the petitions.
The court's observation came on a petition against 'niakh halala' filed by Delhi-based Shameema Begum, who is being represented by senior advocate V Shekhar and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay.
The lawyers sought an urgent hearing of Begum's petition, alleging she has been threatened by her in-laws to either withdraw the petition from the apex court or get thrown out of the matrimonial home.
The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, however, refused to give an urgent hearing but said, "We will list her petition along with other petitions."
The lawyers said that earlier, the petitions were shown in the advance cause list of business of the Supreme Court but later they got deleted, which led them to mention them for urgent listing.The apex court on March 26 had referred to a five-judge bench the petitions challenging the constitutional validity of polygamy and Nikah Halala among the Muslims.
On August 22 last year, the court had banned the age-old practice of instant triple talaq' but it had kept open the issue of polygamy and Nikah Halala.
Notably, some petitioners who have challenged Nikah Halala and polygamy have also challenged the practices of Nikah Mutah and Nikah Misyar -- both temporary marriages where duration of the relationship is specified and agreed upon in advance.
The top court had also allowed Muslim Women Resistance Committee, Kolkata to file an application for impleadment as a party in the hearing. In her petition, Begum has contended that by virtue of Muslim Personal Law, section 494 of IPC (marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife) was rendered inapplicable to this community and no married Muslim woman has the avenue of filing a complaint against her husband for the offence of bigamy.
Another plea was filed by one Rani alias Sabnam who alleged that she and her three minor kids have been thrown out of the matrimonial home after her husband re-married. She has sought that the practices of polygamy and 'nikah halala' among Muslims be declared as unconstitutional.
A similar plea was also filed by Delhi-based woman Nafisa Khan seeking almost same reliefs.