Muslim woman files plea in the Supreme Court to declare Sharia Courts unconstitutional

The Supreme Court has decided to hear a fresh plea filed by a Muslim woman seeking to declare setting up of sharia courts to decide marriage, divorce and other cases as unconstitutional.

The Supreme Court bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud asked 21-year old Muslim woman, Zikra to file an application along with another batch of pleas challenging the practice of polygamy and nikah halala among Muslims. Zikra, mother of two had approached the apex court to become a party in the case to challenge Islamic practices like polygamy and nikah halala.

“Declare that establishing a Sharia court to decide cases related to marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance, succession and/or other similar matters is illegal and unconstitutional”, Zikra said in her plea, adding that nikah halala, nikah mutah, nikah misyar and polygamy ran counter to public order, morality and health. In her petition, Zikra narrated her experience of how she was divorced twice and forced to undergo nikah halala to remarry her husband.

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In her plea, Zikra has demanded that triple talaq should be declared ‘cruel’ under Section 498A and ‘nikah halala’, ‘nikah mutah’ and ‘nikah misyar’ as rape under IPC Section 375. “Polygamy is an offence under Section 494 of the IPC,” her plea read.

Zikra, in her plea, has narrated her ordeal of facing practices like nikah halala and other Muslim practices. She said that she was divorced twice and forced to undergo ‘nikah halala’ to remarry her husband.

Nikah halala is a practice in which a divorced Muslim woman is forced to marry another man, consummates the marriage and then get a divorce again and observes a period of separation period called ‘iddat’ before remarrying her husband.

Recently, the Supreme Court has banned the practice of instant triple talaq by calling it arbitrary and against the tenets of Islam. The Madras High Court, in 2016 had also banned the unauthorised ‘Sharia Courts’ functioning inside the mosques and stated that religious places and other places of worships are meant only for religious purposes.

We had also reported that regarding AIMPLB’s decision to open Sharia courts also referred to as Darul-Qaza, which are extra-constitutional, in all districts of the country. The apex court had also held that fatwas issued by Muslim shariat courts (Dar-ul-Qazas) do not have legal sanctity and cannot be enforced if they infringed on the fundamental rights of an individual.

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