The Supreme Court today sought responses from the Centre and others to a plea seeking to declare ‘Talaq-e-Ahsan’ and all other forms of “unilateral extra-judicial” dissolution of marriages under the Muslim Personal Laws as illegal and unconstitutional.
The petition has also sought directions to the Centre and others to frame guidelines for a gender neutral, religion neutral uniform ground and procedure for divorce.
According to the petition filed by a Pune-based woman, as per the customs and procedure, ‘Talaq-e-Ahsan’ requires pronouncement of Talaq once followed by abstinence from conjugal relation for three lunar months or 90 days and thereafter, if the parties to the marriage do not resume their conjugal relationship within 90 days, the marriage stands dissolved.
A bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka agreed to hear the petition and issued notices to the Centre and others, including the National Commission for Women, seeking their responses.
The plea, filed through advocate Nirmal Kumar Ambastha, has said the petitioner, who is an engineer by profession, was divorced by her husband through the ‘Talaq-e-Ahsan’ procedure by sending a letter through speed post after she was driven out of her matrimonial home.
It claimed that the petitioner was assaulted and driven out of her matrimonial home during two years of her marriage on several occasions only for the reason that she was unwilling to meet all the demands for money by her husband and his family.
The plea said the petitioner’s husband sent her a letter of divorce on July 16, 2022 through speed post levelling various baseless and untrue allegations against her.
“The petitioner tried to approach the local police against the atrocities and harassment by her husband and in laws and also against the unilateral dissolution of marriage, but the local police did not register the case on the ground that ‘Talaq-e-Ahsan’ is a recognised process for dissolution of Muslim marriages,” the plea said.
The petition said ‘Talaq-e-Ahsan’ and all other forms of “unilateral extra-judicial” dissolution of marriages contravene Article 21 of the Constitution, offending right to dignity of Muslim Women. Article 21 relates to the right to protection of life and personal liberty.
It has sought court’s direction declaring that section 2 of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 is void and unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 14,15,21 and 25 of the Constitution, in so far as it seeks to validate practices of ‘Talaq-e-Ahsan’ and all other forms of unilateral extra-judicial dissolution of marriages.
While issuing notice on the plea, the Apex Court tagged it with two separate pending writ petitions which have raised the issue of ‘Talaq-e-Hasan’.
‘Talaq-e-Hasan’ is a form of divorce in Muslims by which a man can divorce his wife by pronouncing talaq once every month over a three-month period.