Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of A. Muhamed Mustaque and C. S. Dias, JJ., addressed the controversial question regarding rights of Muslim women, i.e.  Have Muslim women lost their right to invoke extra-judicial divorce, after the coming into force of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939? A number of women had approached the Court for seeking to validate their extra-judicial divorce by obtaining a declaration to that affect. The Bench expressed,

“These cases speak in abundance about the patriarchal mind-set followed in the Society for decades depriving Muslim women their right to invoke extra-judicial divorce. The above sketch the miseries of women despite the promise guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.”

Controversy before the Court

The controversy came into force when a Single Judge of Kerala High Court in K. C. Moyin v. Nafeesa, 1972 KLT 785 negated the right of Muslim women to invoke extra-judicial divorce in light of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939. It was held that under no circumstances, a muslim marriage could be dissolved at the instance of wife, except in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

In the instant case a woman, ‘Y’  ‘Y’ had instituted divorce petition on the grounds that her husband ‒ ‘X’, was impotent and treated her with cruelty and was granted a decree of divorce by the Family Court. The grounds were challenged before the High Court and though the X was willing to prove his potency the Court granted ‘Y’ leave to pronounce Khula (exta-judicial divorce) on her request. Y stated that she was prepared to return the dower to ‘X’. However, ‘X’ had declined to accept the dower, which had raised a question mark on validity of Khula.

Observations and Analysis

 Chapter IV: Verse 28 of Quran states that,

“Man was created weak, to mean that his decisions are vulnerable. The very concept of institutionalizing marriage in Islam through a contract is to remind that the parties to the marriage may error in their decision and they may fall apart in conflict to remain as united. Marriage as a contract guarantees both parties permanent rights and obligations. The Holy Quran, therefore, recognizes the right to divorce equally for both men and women.”

The Bench observed, the Holy Quran gives a clear guidance as to the areas of family law, it does not by itself constitute a system. While conferring rights on spouses for divorce, it did not lay down exhaustive procedure to give effect to dissolution of marriage. This approach clearly gives an indication that areas related to divorce are amenable to change with regard to procedure and process without prejudice to the right conferred on a spouse to separate or severe the marital knot. The Bench noticed, many modes of dissolution of marriage existed prior to Islam which were accepted by the Prophet with certain refinement and modifications. The Prophet always had taken a liberal view in the matter of divorce in the best interest of the parties.

The Legal Conundrum and K. C. Moyin v. Nafeesa Case

The legal conundrum that has resulted from K.C. Moyin’s case wherein the Court in unequivocal terms declared that Muslim wife cannot repudiate a marriage dehors the provisions of the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act (the Act). The Single Judge was of the view that unilateral repudiation of marriage by Faskh without the intervention of court under the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act was opposed to the law of the land and when a particular branch of law is codified, it was not possible to travel beyond the same and decide the rights of the parties.

To assess the validity of abovementioned decision the Bench pursued to examine the reasons and objects of enactment of the Act. Accordingly, the Bench observed that Section 2 of Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 (the Shariat Act) specifically recognized all modes of extra-judicial divorce except Faskh for which intervention of an authority like Qazi was mandatory. In Section 5 of the Shariat Act a provision was made to dissolve marriage by the District Judge on a petition made by Muslim married women. This would show that the intention of the Shariat Act was to entrust the mode of dissolution of marriage by Faskh through the court. Thus, under the Shariat Act, Muslim women retained the right of all modes of extra-judicial divorce recognized under their personal law Shariat, except Faskh. Later on, after observing that inspite of Shariat Act, Hanafi women were not allowed to obtain decree from the court to dissolve their marriage. Therefore, the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act, 1939 was enacted to consolidate and clarify the provisions of the Muslim law relating to the suit for dissolution of marriage by married Muslim women. By the said Act Section 5 of the Shariat Act was repealed, which consolidated the law relating to Faskh alone and the Act, 1939 never intended to do away with the practice of extra-judicial divorce otherwise available to a Muslim woman. Hence,

On an overall analysis of the scheme of the Shariat Act as well as the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act as above, we are of the considered view that the Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act restrict Muslim women to annul their marriage invoking Faskh except through the intervention of the Court. All other forms of extra-judicial divorce as referred in Section 2 of the Shariat Act are thus available to Muslim women. We, therefore, hold that the law declared in K.C.Moyin’s case (supra) is not good law.”

Khula: Whether Consent of Husband a prerequisite?

The right to invoke khula conferred upon married Muslim women is an absolute right; akin to talaq conferred upon the married Muslim men. It was submitted by the Amicus Curiae that like talaq, there are no specific stages or procedures to be complied by the wife before seeking divorce invoking khula. The Bench opined that the idea of justice in Quran is rooted in fairness and Chapter IV verse 1 Quran which refers to mutual obligation has to be read into the right conferred on the wife to invoke khula. The Quranic verse as referred in verses 228 in Chapter II in clear terms confers absolute right on the wife to annul the marriage with her husband. Therefore, husband’s consent is not a precondition for validity of khula.

Khula: If Valid When the Wife fails to Return Dower?

The Bench opined that in Hadith, the direction of the prophet to the wife to return or pay compensation to the husband had to be understood to ensure fairness of justice. The right of the husband to claim back what was given in marriage could not be construed to mean khula can be effective only when the husband had consented to the offer made by the wife. Such an approach would deny the right conferred upon wife under Quran in unequivocal terms. The Bench remarked, the procedural equity to be followed cannot override such substantial right. Insistence to return dower or payment of compensation, therefore, were to be understood as husband is legitimately entitled to claim back what is otherwise due to him on account of unilateral invocation of khula by wife and can very well approach the court of law for the return of the same. Reliance was placed on the decision of Supreme Court in Juveria Abdul Majid Patni v. Atif Iqbal Mansoori, (2014) 10 SCC 736, wherein the Court while considering extra-judicial divorce of khula had held that, “This may or may not accompany her offer to give something in return. The wife may offer to give up her claim to Mahr (dower). The `Khula’ is a mode of divorce which proceeds from the wife, the husband cannot refuse subject only to reasonable negotiation with regard to what the wife has offered to give him in return.”

Validity of Khula without Attempts for Reconciliation

Human minds are vulnerable. Quran itself describes a human as fallible. Sometimes, a decision to invoke khula by wife may be due to perceptible differences she had in the relationship with her husband. Quran, therefore, thrusts on conciliation as a medium of dispute resolution before taking a concrete decision. Since, if an unbridled power to invoke khula is given to a Muslim wife, it may result in untold miseries and hardships to both.

Shayara Bano v. Union of India (2017) 9 SCC 1 it was held that triple talaq invoked without any attempt for reconciliation is arbitrary and violative of fundamental right contained in Article 14 of the Constitution. Hence, the Bench held that though there need not be any specific reasons to invoke khula, the procedure of reconciliation itself become a reasonable cause in as much as that it would reflect an attempt to resolve the disputes amicably between parties.  Hence, any invocation of khula without there being an attempt for reconciliation was held to be bad in law.

Jurisdiction of Family Court In Matters Related to Extra-Judicial Divorce

In the matter of unilateral dissolution of marriage, invoking khula and talaq, the scope of inquiry before the Family Courts is limited. In such proceedings, the court shall record the khula or talaq to declare the marital status of the parties after due notice to other party. The Family Court therefore, shall restrain from adjudicating upon such extra-judicial divorce unless it is called upon to decide its validity in appropriate manner.

In the light of above, Khula pronounced by Y was held to be valid in law. However, X, the husband of Y was granted liberty to approach the Family Court for the demand of consideration or dower. Accordingly, the case was disposed of.

[X v. Y, Mat.Appeal.No.89 of 2020, Decided On 09-04-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before The Court By:

Amicus Curiae: Adv.K.I.Mayankutty Mather

Counsels for the Petitioners: Sri.Babu Karukapadath, Smt.M.A.Vaheeda Babu
Shri.P.U.Vinod Kumar, Sri.Avinash P Raveendran, Smt.Arya Raghunath
Smt.Sneha Sukumaran Mullakkal And Sri.Shelly Paul

Counsel for the Respondent: Sri.P.Narayanan And Smt.P.Sheeba

Counsel for Kerala Federation Of Women: Adv. Shajna

Op EdsOP. ED.

Every year, the 8th Day of the month of March is celebrated as International Women’s Day; but what is significance of this day? In order to know more about the evolution of this day, let’s take a trip down the alleyway of history!


United States of America: A Movement is Born[1]


In 1848, United States of America, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, indignant over women being barred from speaking at an anti-slavery convention, gathered over a few hundred people at their nation’s first women’s rights convention in New York. Together they demanded civil, social, political and religious rights for women in a Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions.

In the year 1909, the Socialist Party of America observed for the first time the “National Women’s Day” on 28th February, in order to honour of the garment workers’ strike in New York, where women protested against working conditions.


The flame spreads to Europe


Inspired by the American Socialists, in 1910, German delegates Clara Zetkin, Käte Duncker and Paula Thiede, proposed the observance of an annual “Women’s Day” with the idea to promote equal rights including “Right To Vote”  for women.  The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honour the movement for women’s rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage (voting rights) for women.[2]

In the year 1911, International Women’s Day was marked for the first time, by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Women demanded that they be given the right to vote and to hold public office. They also protested against gender discrimination in employment.

International Women’s Day also became a mechanism for protesting World War I. Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day in February 1913.

In 1914, International Women’s Day was held on 8th March in Germany[3] dedicated to women’s right to vote, which German women did not win until 1918.

On March 8th, 1917, in Petrograd, the capital of the Russian Empire, women textile workers began a demonstration, covering the whole city. Women in Saint Petersburg went on strike that day for “Bread and Peace”[4] demanding the end of World War I, ending of Russian food shortages, and the end of Czarism (Russian Emperorship). Four days later, the Czar abdicated and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote.


The 70s Era and United Nations


In the 1970s, Women’s Day re-emerged as a day of activism with several women’s groups calling for equal pay, equal economic opportunity, equal legal rights, reproductive rights, subsidized child care, and the prevention of violence against women. After the Second World War, 8th March as Women’s Day started to be celebrated in a number of countries.

In 1975, during the International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8th March as International Women’s Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.[5]


International Women’s Day- India’s Tryst


Everywhere in Europe while the women were coming out on the streets demanding their rights, meanwhile in contemporary India, in the year 1917, Margaret Cousins founded the Women’s Indian Association in Adyar, Madras, to create a vehicle for women to influence government policy and focus on equal rights, educational opportunity, social reform, and women’s suffrage.[6]

The British Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act 1918, enfranchising women over the age of 30, who were entitled to be, or who were married to someone entitled to be, a local government elector. Madras was the first province to grant women the “Right to Vote” in 1921.[7]

In 1927, the All India Women’s Conference (AIWC) was formed to advocate for women’s education and was helpful in the passage of the Hindu Code of Bills between 1952 and 1960.

In 1950, the Constitution of India granted voting rights to all women and men. The Constitution of India guaranteed to all Indian women equality; equal opportunity; equal pay for equal work. The Constitution also renounced practices derogatory to the dignity of women; and also allowed for provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.

The Government of India declared 2001 as the Year of Women’s Empowerment[8]

Women’s organisations in India first began to emerge in the early 1800s, and later in the 1970s after a period of limited activity from the 1950s to 1970s. India has one of the highest numbers of female politicians in the world. Women have held high offices in India including that of the President, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Leader of the Opposition

The Indian Armed Forces began recruiting women to non-medical positions in 1992[9]. The Border Security Force (BSF) began recruiting female officers in 2013. On 24th October 2015, the Indian government announced that women could serve as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force (IAF)[10].


†Editorial Assistant, EBC Publishing Pvt. Ltd. 

[1] https://www.un.org/en/observances/womens-day/background

[2] https://womenwatch.unwomen.org/international-womens-day-history

[3] https://www.dw.com/en/berlin-marks-first-official-womens-day-holiday/a-47811363

[4] The Guardian, Women -protest sparked Russian revolution

[5] https://www.un.org/en/observances/womens-day/background

[6] The Hindu, Emancipation of Women

[7] Political Participation of Women in India

[8] https://pib.gov.in/newsite/erelcontent.aspx?relid=1039

[9] Reuters, Indian Armed Forces to recruit women for all combat roles

[10] Digital Journal, India paves way for women in army combat

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, JJ has held that there is no bar on granting anticipatory bail for an offence committed under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act 2019, provided that the competent court must hear the married Muslim woman who has made the complaint before granting the anticipatory bail.

Background

On 27 August 2020, a Muslim woman lodged a first information report, complaining of offences under the provisions of Section 498-A read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act 2019, alleging that in December 2019, her husband pronounced talaq three times at their house. Following this, he entered into a second marriage.

The Kerala High Court, on November 2, 2020, while declining to grant anticipatory bail observed:

“If the prosecution case is correct, the 1st petitioner is now enjoying with his second wife when the matrimonial relationship with the de facto complainant is in existence.”

However, the order of the High Court contained no reason why the appellant, i.e. the mother-in-law of the complainant, was being denied anticipatory bail.

The first petitioner is the spouse of the complainant and second petitioner is the mother of the first petitioner. Supreme Court had, on December 3, 2020, refused to entertain the Special Leave Petition by the first petitioner and he was granted time to surrender before the competent court of jurisdiction and apply for regular bail.

The Court was now called upon to decide whether the High Court was right in refusing to grant anticipatory bail to the appellant i.e. the mother-in-law of the complainant.

Analysis

Who is punishable for the offence of pronouncement of triple talaq?

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019 was introduced in the Parliament to give effect to the ruling of this court in Shayara Bano v. Union of India, (2017) 9 SCC 1, and “to “liberate” Muslim women from the customary practice of talaq-e-biddat (divorce by triple talaq) by Muslim men.”

The provisions of Section 7(c) apply to the Muslim husband. The offence which is created by Section 3 is on the pronouncement of a talaq by a Muslim husband upon his wife. Section 3 renders the pronouncement of talaq void and illegal. Section 4 makes the Act of the Muslim husband punishable with imprisonment.

“Thus, on a preliminary analysis, it is clear that the appellant as the mother-in-law of the second respondent cannot be accused of the offence of pronouncement of triple talaq under the Act as the offence can only be committed by a Muslim man.”

Does Section 7(c) of the Act bars the power of the court to grant anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the CrPC?

Under clause (c) of Section 7, Parliament has provided that no person who is accused of an offence punishable under the Act shall be released bail unless the Magistrate, on an application filed by the accused and after hearing the married Muslim woman upon whom the talaq is pronounced, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.

The statutory text indicates that Section 7(c) does not impose an absolute bar to the grant of bail. On the contrary, the Magistrate may grant bail, if satisfied that “there are reasonable grounds for granting bail to such person” and upon complying with the requirement of hearing the married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced.

Hence, though Section 7 begins with a non obstante clause which operates in relation to the CrPC, a plain construction of Section 7(c) would indicate that it does not impose a fetter on the power of the Magistrate to grant bail, save and except, for the stipulation that before doing so, the married Muslim woman, upon whom talaq is pronounced, must be heard and there should be a satisfaction of the Magistrate of the existence of reasonable grounds for granting bail to the person.

“This implies that even while entertaining an application for grant of anticipatory bail for an offence under the Act, the competent court must hear the married Muslim woman who has made the complaint, as prescribed under Section 7(c) of the Act. Only after giving the married Muslim woman a hearing, can the competent court grant bail to the accused.”

Further, the legislature has not expressly barred the application of Section 438 of CrPC. The provisions of Section 7(c) of the Act must be distinguished from provisions which are contained certain other statutes which expressly exclude the provisions of Section 438 of the CrPC.

Hence, on a true and harmonious construction of Section 438 of CrPC and Section 7(c) of the Act, it was held that there is no bar on granting anticipatory bail for an offence committed under the Act, provided that the competent court must hear the married Muslim woman who has made the complaint before granting the anticipatory bail. It would be at the discretion of the court to grant ad-interim relief to the accused during the pendency of the anticipatory bail application, having issued notice to the married Muslim woman.

[Rahna Jalal v. State of Kerala, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1061, order dated 17.12.2020]


*Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud has penned this order. Read more about him here

Advocates who appeared in the matter:

For Appellant: Advocate Haris Beeran,

For Second Respondent i.e. the complainant: Senior Advocate V. Chitambaresh, and advocate Harshad V. Hameed,

For State of Kerala: Advocate G. Prakash

Also read:

In the historic judgment, SC says that Triple Talaq is not fundamental to Islam; Practice set aside by a 3:2 majority

Law made Easy

[Disclaimer: This note is for general information only. It is NOT to be substituted for legal advice or taken as legal advice. The publishers of the blog shall not be liable for any act or omission based on this note]

Introduction

The patriarchal setup has been deeply rooted in Indian society since time immemorial. It may be believed that this system laid the foundation stone for the abuse of women. Domestic violence affects women from every social background irrespective of their age, religion, caste, or class. It is a violent crime that not only affects a person and her children but also has wider implications for society. Although the root behind the crime is hard to decipher, certain reasons behind the violence can be traced to the stereotyping of gender roles, and the distribution of power.

The definition of violence has evolved over the years to an extent it not only includes physical forms of violence but also emotional, mental, financial, and other forms of cruelty. Thus, the term domestic violence includes acts which harm or endangers the health, safety, life, limb, or wellbeing (mental or physical) of the victim, or tends to do so, and includes causing: physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and economic abuse, perpetrated by any person who is or was in a domestic relationship with the victim.

Before the enactment of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (“DV Act”), the victim could approach the court under Section 498-A of the Penal Code, 1860 which provides for ‘husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty’ wherein only a certain set of offence dealing with cruelty to married women was the only recourse. All other instances of domestic violence within the household had to be dealt with under the offences that the respective acts of violence constituted under the IPC without any regard to the gender of the victim.

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005: Meaning, Intent, and Objective

To minimize the cumbersome position of law, be it procedural or substantive, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was enacted to protect the women from acts of domestic violence. The legislative intent was further emphasized by the Supreme Court of India in the case of Indra Sarma v. V.K.V Sarma, (2013) 15 SCC 755 wherein it was stated that the DV Act is enacted to provide a remedy in civil law for the protection of women, from being victims of such relationship, and to prevent the occurrence of domestic violence in the society. Other legislations like CrPC, IPC, etc., where reliefs have been provided to women who are placed in vulnerable situations were also discussed.

The objective of the Act lays down “An Act to provide for more effective protection of the rights of women guaranteed under the Constitution who are victims of violence of any kind occurring within the family and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”[1] The Madras High Court in Vandhana v. T. Srikanth, 2007 SCC Online Mad 553 in one of the early cases since the enactment of the DV Act, observed that the Act was formulated to implement Recommendation No. 12 of United Nations Committee on Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), 1989 and which was ratified by India in June, 1993. Interpretation of the DV Act should conform to international conventions and international instruments and norms. The Bombay High Court in the case of Ishpal Singh Kahai v. Ramanjeet Kahai, 2011 SCC Online Bom 412 reiterated that the object of the DV Act is to grant statutory protection to victims of violence in the domestic sector who had no proprietary rights. The Act provides for security and protection of a wife irrespective of her proprietary rights in her residence. It aims at protecting the wife against violence and at the prevention of recurrence of acts of violence.

Key Definitions under the Domestic Violence Act

  • Aggrieved Person

According to the definition provided under the DV Act in Section 2(a), an “aggreived person” means any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent. Therefore, any woman who is or has been in a domestic relationship is entitled to make a complaint invoking provisions of the Act.

The amount or period of time lived together by the petitioner and respondent is not necessary in terms of that the petitioner and respondent should live or have lived together for a particular period of time. Hence, application by lady, for maintenance, from a man with whom she shared a close relationship is maintainable, M. Palani v. Meenakshi, 2008 SCC Online Mad 150.

The Supreme Court had observed in one of the cases that judicial separation does not change the status of the wife as an “aggrieved person” under Section 2(a) read with Section 12 and does not end the “domestic relationship” under Section 2(f). It stated that judicial separation is mere suspension of husband-wife relationship and not a complete severance of relationship as happens in divorce, Krishna Bhattacharjee v. Sarathi Choudhury, (2016) 2 SCC 705.

  • Domestic Relationship

According to Section 2(f) of DV Act, “domestic relationship” means a relationship between two persons living in a shared household. Domestic relationship can be through marriage such as wives, daughters-in-law, sisters-in-law, widows and any other members of the family; or blood relationship such as mothers, sisters or daughters; and other domestic relationships including through adoption, live-in relationships, and women in bigamous relationship or victims of legally invalid marriages. The law addresses the concerns of women of all ages irrespective of their marital status. The definition of “domestic relationship” under the DV Act is exhaustive: when a definition clause is defined to “mean” such and such, the definition is prima facie restrictive and exhaustive, Indra Sarmav. V.K.V Sarma, (2013) 15 SCC 755.

The Supreme Court further stated that the word domestic relationship means a relationship that has some inherent or essential characteristics of marriage though not a marriage that is legally recognized. Expression “relationship in the nature of marriage” cannot be construed in the abstract. It is to be taken in the context in which it appears and to be applied bearing in mind the purpose and object of DV Act as well as meaning of the expression “in the nature of marriage”, Indra Sarma v. V.K.V Sarma, (2013) 15 SCC 755.

  • Shared Household

According to Section 2(s) of DV Act 2005, a shared household is where the aggrieved person or a woman lives in a domestic relationship, either singly, or along with the man against whom the complaint is filed. It may also imply a household where a woman has lived in a domestic relationship but has been thrown out. This may include all kinds of situations whether the household is owned by the respondent or it is rented accommodation. It also includes a house either owned jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent or both may have jointly or singly, any rights, titles or interests. The DV Act recognizes a woman’s right to reside in a shared household. This means a woman cannot be thrown out of such a household except through the procedure established by the law. In case she is thrown out she can be brought back again after obtaining the order from the court. A woman to claim the protection of right in “shared household” has to establish (a) that the relationship with the opposite party is “domestic relationship”, and (b) that the house in respect of which she seeks to enforce the right is “shared household”. In Indian society, there are many situations in which a woman may not enter into her matrimonial home immediately after marriage. A woman might not live at the time of the institution of proceedings or might have lived together with the husband even for a single day in “shared household” should not be left remediless despite valid marriage. Narrow interpretation of “domestic relationship” and “shared household” would leave many a woman in distress without remedy. Hence the correct interpretation of aforesaid definition including the right to live in “shared household” would be that words “live” or “have at any point of time lived” would include within its purview “the right to live”, Vandhana v. T. Srikanth, 2007 SCC Online Mad 553.

This law does not alter the legality of ownership or transfer the ownership and a woman cannot claim that she owns a house; it only provides emergency relief to the victim in the sense that she cannot be thrown out of her house. For claiming ownership, a woman has to follow a separate legal procedure and has to file a separate application as per the provisions of laws whichever are applicable to her situation.

  • Domestic Violence

“Domestic violence” is a broad term that entails not only physical beating but also other forms of violence such as emotional violence, mental violence, sexual violence, financial violence and other forms of cruelty that may occur within a household. The definition provided in Section 3 of the DV Act includes the following as acts of domestic violence:

“Any act, omission or commission or conduct of the respondent shall constitute domestic violence in case it—

(a) harms or injures or endangers the health, safety, life, limb or well-being, whether mental or physical, of the aggrieved person or tends to do so and includes causing physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse and economic abuse; or

(b) harasses, harms, injures or endangers the aggrieved person with a view to coerce her or any other person related to her to meet any unlawful demand for any dowry or other property or valuable security; or

(c) has the effect of threatening the aggrieved person or any person related to her by any conduct mentioned in clause (a) or clause (b); or

(d) otherwise injures or causes harm, whether physical or mental, to the aggrieved person.”

The Section also defines the meaning of terms physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, and economic abuse. It further enunciates that the overall facts and circumstances of the case shall be taken into consideration in order to determine whether any act, omission, commission or conduct of the respondent constitutes “domestic violence” under the said section.

Who can seek help or can claim reliefs under the Domestic Violence Act?

According to the provisions of this Act, any aggrieved woman who is in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to the act of domestic violence by the respondent can seek help. A woman can file a complaint against any adult male perpetrator who commits an act of violence. She can also file a complaint against any male or female relatives of the husband/ male partner (for example in a live-in relationship) who has perpetrated violence. The Supreme Court in Hiral P. Harsora v. Kusum Narottamdas Harsora, (2016) 10 SCC 165 struck down adult male from the definition of “respondent” stating that it is not based on any intelligible differentia having rational nexus with object sought to be achieved. The Supreme Court also explained in the said case that the categories of persons against whom remedies under the DV Act are available include women and non-adults. Expression “respondent” in Section 2(q) or persons who can be treated as perpetrators of violence against women/against whom remedies under the DV Act are actionable cannot be restricted to expression “adult male person” in Section 2(q). Thus, remedies under the DV Act are available even against a female member and also against non-adults.

Protection Officer

Under Section 8 of the DV Act, the Protection Officer is appointed by the State Government as per the provisions of the law. The Protection Officer acts as a facilitator between the aggrieved woman and the court. The Protection Officer aids the aggrieved woman in filing of complaints, and application before the Magistrate to obtain the necessary relief and also assists to obtain medical aid, legal aid, counselling, safe shelter and other required assistance.

Duties of Protection Officer

Section 9 of the DV Act lays down the duties of the Protection Officer as follows:

“(a) to assist the Magistrate in the discharge of his functions under this Act;

(b) to make a domestic incident report to the Magistrate, in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed, upon receipt of a complaint of domestic violence and forward copies thereof to the police officer in charge of the police station within the local limits of whose jurisdiction domestic violence is alleged to have been committed and to the service providers in that area;

(c) to make an application in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed to the Magistrate, if the aggrieved person so desires, claiming relief for issuance of a protection order;

(d) to ensure that the aggrieved person is provided legal aid under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and make available free of cost the prescribed form in which a complaint is to be made;

(e) to maintain a list of all service providers providing legal aid or counselling, shelter homes and medical facilities in a local area within the jurisdiction of the Magistrate;

(f) to make available a safe shelter home, if the aggrieved person so requires and forward a copy of his report of having lodged the aggrieved person in a shelter home to the police station and the Magistrate having jurisdiction in the area where the shelter home is situated;

(g) to get the aggrieved person medically examined, if she has sustained bodily injuries and forward a copy of the medical report to the police station and the Magistrate having jurisdiction in the area where the domestic violence is alleged to have been taken place;

(h) to ensure that the order for monetary relief under Section 20 is complied with and executed, in accordance with the procedure prescribed under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (2 of 1974);

(i) to perform such other duties as may be prescribed.”

Service Providers

A victim of domestic violence may require various services such as shelter home or safe accommodation, medical aid, child care, legal aid services and other community services. According to Section 10(1) of DV Act, the Service Providers are the NGOs, Companies or voluntary organizations working in the field of domestic violence and are registered under the laws of the State. Service Providers are duty bound to provide assistance and support to women facing domestic violence. A woman can go to a registered Service Provider to make a complaint under the DV Act. The duty of the service provider, as provided under Section 6 of the DV Act, upon receipt of request should be to provide shelter to the aggrieved person in the shelter home.

Filing a Complaint of Domestic Violence

An aggrieved woman, in order to file a complaint for domestic violence may:

  • Approach the police station and register the complaint, or
  • File a complaint to a Protection Officer or Service Provider, or
  • Directly approach the Magistrate.

The duties of the police officers, Protection officer, Service Provider, or the Magistrate is laid down under Section 5 of the Act. It states that, upon receipt of complaint they shall inform the aggrieved person—

“(a) of her right to make an application for obtaining a relief by way of a protection order, an order for monetary relief, a custody order, a residence order, a compensation order or more than one such order under this Act;

(b) of the availability of services of service providers;

(c) of the availability of services of the Protection Officers;

(d) of her right to free legal services under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 ;

(e) of her right to file a complaint under Section 498-A of the Indian Penal Code , wherever relevant”

The Supreme Court emphasised that the Police has to look into the complaint made under the DV Act seriously and it cannot submit a report that no case is made out without proper verification, investigation, enquiry not only from members of family but also from neighbours, friends and others, Santosh Bakshi v. State of Punjab, (2014) 13 SCC 25.

Which Court can decide the case

Section 27 of the DV Act provides that a first class magistrate or metropolitan court shall be the competent court to grant a protection order and other orders under the DV Act and to try offences under the Act within the local limits of which

(a) the person aggrieved permanently or temporarily resides or carries on business or is employed; or

(b) the respondent resides or carries on business or is employed; or

(c) the cause of action has arisen.

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court held that petition under DV Act can be filed in a court where “person aggrieved” permanently or temporarily resides or carries on business or is employed, Shyamlal Devda v. Parimala, (2020) 3 SCC 14.

Reliefs available under the Domestic Violence Act

The remedies available under the DV Act as provided from Section 18 to 23 for the aggrieved person are as follows:

The Magistrate after giving the aggrieved person and the respondent an opportunity of being heard and if satisfied that domestic violence has taken place or is likely to take place may pass a protection order and prohibit the respondent from

(a) committing any act of domestic violence;

(b) aiding or abetting in the commission of acts of domestic violence;

(c) entering the place of employment of the aggrieved person or, if the person aggrieved is a child, its school or any other place frequented by the aggrieved person;

(d) attempting to communicate in any form, whatsoever, with the aggrieved person, including personal, oral or written or electronic or telephonic contact;

(e) alienating any assets, operating bank lockers or bank accounts used or held or enjoyed by both the parties, jointly by the aggrieved person and the respondent or singly by the respondent, including her stridhan or any other property held either jointly by the parties or separately by them without the leave of the Magistrate;

(f) causing violence to the dependants, other relatives or any person who give the aggrieved person assistance from domestic violence;

(g) committing any other act as specified in the protection order.

The Magistrate may pass a residence order

  1. a) restraining the respondent from dispossessing or in any other manner disturbing the possession of the aggrieved person from the shared household, whether or not the respondent has a legal or equitable interest in the shared household;

(b) directing the respondent to remove himself from the shared household;

(c) restraining the respondent or any of his relatives from entering any portion of the shared household in which the aggrieved person resides;

(d) restraining the respondent from alienating or disposing off the shared household or encumbering the same;

(e) restraining the respondent from renouncing his rights in the shared household except with the leave of the Magistrate; or

(f) directing the respondent to secure same level of alternate accommodation for the aggrieved person as enjoyed by her in the shared household or to pay rent for the same, if the circumstances so require.

The proviso clause for the section states that no order shall be passed under clause (b) against any person who is a woman.

The High Court of Madras opined that the Act contemplates two types of reliefs viz. (a) right to reside in shared household; and (b) right to seek residence orders under Section 19 of the Act—Section 19(1) of the Act empowers Magistrate to pass variety of residence order. Shared household would come into picture only when relief is sought in terms of Sections 19(1)(a) to (e) of the Act. Aggrieved woman can seek orders to enable her to continue to reside in shared household or protection order to enable her to reside in shared household, then property, which is subject-matter, should be shared household. Aggrieved woman can seek relief of alternate accommodation in terms of Section 19(1)(f) of the Act and in such case concept of shared household would not be attracted. Expression “shared household” occurring in Section 19(1)(f) of the Act is just for purpose of enabling aggrieved woman to seek alternative accommodation, which would be on par with shared household that she enjoyed at some point of time, M. Muruganandam v. M. Megala, 2010 SCC Online Mad 6012.

Under Section 20 of DV Act, an order for monetary relief can be passed by the court in case a woman has incurred expenditure as a result of violence. This may include expenses incurred by a woman on obtaining medical treatment, any loss of earnings, damage to property, etc. The aggrieved person can also claim for maintenance from her male partner.

The Magistrate may direct the respondent to pay monetary relief to meet the expenses incurred and losses suffered by the aggrieved person and any child of the aggrieved person as a result of the domestic violence and such relief may include, but is not limited to,—

(a) the loss of earnings;

(b) the medical expenses;

(c) the loss caused due to the destruction, damage or removal of any property from the control of the aggrieved person; and

(d) the maintenance for the aggrieved person as well as her children, if any, including an order under or in addition to an order of maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or any other law for the time being in force.

It has also been provided in the section that the monetary relief provided should be adequate, fair and reasonable and consistent with the standard of living to which the aggrieved person is accustomed. In case there is a failure in part of the respondent to make payment in terms of the monetary order, the Magistrate may direct the employer or a debtor of the respondent, to directly pay to the aggrieved person or to deposit with the court a portion of the wages or salaries or debt due to or accrued to the credit of the respondent, which amount may be adjusted towards the monetary relief payable by the respondent.

The Magistrate may grant temporary custody of the children to the aggrieved woman or any person making an application on her behalf. This is to prevent a woman from being separated from her children, which itself is an abusive situation. Section 21 also states that the Magistrate may, at any stage of hearing of the application for protection order or for any other relief under this Act grant temporary custody of any child or children to the aggrieved person or the person making an application on her behalf and specify, if necessary, the arrangements for visit of such child or children by the respondent. However, the Magistrate may refuse such visit to such child or children, if it feels that any visit to the child or children by the respondent may be harmful.

The Magistrate may on an application being made by the aggrieved person, pass an order directing the respondent to pay compensation and damages for the injuries, including mental torture and emotional distress, caused by the acts of domestic violence committed by that respondent.

  • Magistrate’s power to grant interim and ex parte orders (Section 23)

Section 23 gives power to the Magistrate to pass such interim order as he deems just and proper and also if the Magistrate is satisfied that an application prima facie discloses that the respondent is committing, or has committed an act of domestic violence or that there is a likelihood that the respondent may commit an act of domestic violence, he may grant an ex parte order on the basis of the affidavit in such form, as may be prescribed, of the aggrieved person under Section 18, Section 19, Section 20, Section 21 or, as the case may be, Section 22 against the respondent.

Conclusion

Although the major objective of this law, being to protect the women against domestic violence has been secured, certain portions of the law still remains to be developed. This law provides civil remedies to the victims of domestic violence. Before enactment of this law, in order to seek any civil remedies such as divorce, custody of children, injunctions in any form or maintenance, a woman only had the option of taking recourse to the civil courts. Therefore, the DV Act has certainly brought about the required and necessary change in the system.

Although the Act provides exhaustive remedies to counter the issue of domestic violence certain terms and its interpretation needs to develop. The Act falls short in providing any relief to the male members in the community who are subjected to domestic violence, being one of the areas where the law falls short. However, it also needs to be considered that no crime can be abolished from the society completely, it is only with stringent reforms and mechanism that it can be curbed.


[1] Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005


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Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet has approved a historic bill for the welfare of Women in the Country – the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill, 2020.

This follows the introduction in Parliament of the Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020, and the approval of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020.  These legislative measures are path-breaking steps to protect women’s reproductive rights.

          Once the Bill is enacted by the Parliament, the Central Government shall notify the date of the commencement of the Act. Consequently, the National Board will be constituted.

The National Board shall lay down code of conduct to be observed by persons working at clinics, to set the minimum standards of physical infrastructure, laboratory and diagnostic equipment and expert manpower to be employed by clinics and banks.

The States and Union Territories shall constitute the State Boards and State Authorities within three months of the notification by the Central Government.

The State Board shall have the responsibility to follow the policies and plans laid by the National Board for clinics and Banks in the State.

The Bill also provides for National Registry and Registration Authority to maintain a Central database and assist the National Board in its functioning.  The Bill also proposes for a stringent punishment for those practising sex selection, sale of human embryos or gametes, running agencies/rackets/organisations for such unlawful practices.

Benefits

          The major benefit of the Act would be that it will regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology services in the country.  Consequently, infertile couples will be more ensured/confident of the ethical practices in ARTs.

Background

          The Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation Bill 2020 is the most recent, in a series of legislations approved by the Union Cabinet to protect and safeguard the reproductive rights of women. The bill makes provisions for safe and ethical practice of assisted reproductive technology services in the country. Through the bill, the National Board, the State Boards, the National Registry and the State Registration Authorities respectively will regulate and supervise assisted reproductive technology clinics and assisted reproductive technology banks.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years. India has one of the highest growths in the ART centers and the number of ART cycles performed every year. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), including In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), has given hope to a multitude of persons suffering from infertility, but also introduced a plethora of legal, ethical and social issues. India has become one of the major centres of this global fertility industry, with reproductive medical tourism becoming a significant activity. Clinics in India offer nearly all the ART services—gamete donation, intrauterine insemination (IUI), IVF, ICSI, PGD and gestational surrogacy. However, in spite of so much activity in India, there is yet no standardisation of protocols and reporting is still very inadequate.

The need to regulate the Assisted Reproductive Technology Services is mainly to protect the affected Women and the Children from exploitation. The oocyte donor needs to be supported by an insurance cover, protected from multiple embryo implantation and children born through Assisted reproductive technology should be provided all rights equivalent to a Biological Children. The cryopreservation of sperm, oocytes and embryo by the ART Banks needs to be regulated and the bill intends to make Pre-Genetic Implantation Testing mandatory for the benefit of the child born through assisted reproductive technology.

Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2020

The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 proposes to regulate surrogacy in India by establishing National Board at the central level and State Boards and Appropriate Authorities in the States and Union Territories. The Bill has been examined by the Select Committee and the report has been tabled in the Rajya Sabha on the 5th of February 2020.

The major benefit of the Act would be that it will regulate the surrogacy services in the country. While commercial surrogacy will be prohibited including sale and purchase of human embryos and gametes, ethical surrogacy to the Indian Married couple, Indian Origin Married Couple and Indian Single Woman (only widow or Divorcee) will be allowed on fulfillment of certain conditions. As such, it will control the unethical practices in surrogacy, prevent commercialization of surrogacy and will prohibit potential exploitation of surrogate mothers and children born through surrogacy.

Medical Termination Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020

The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 (34 of 1971) was enacted to provide for the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The said Act recognised the importance of safe, affordable, accessible abortion services to women who need to terminate pregnancy under certain specified conditions. Besides this, several Writ Petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court and various High Courts seeking permission for aborting pregnancies at gestational age beyond the present permissible limit on the grounds of foetal abnormalities or pregnancies due to sexual violence faced by women.

Taken together, the three proposed legislations create an environment of safeguards for women’s reproductive rights, addressing changing social contexts and technological advances.


Cabinet

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 19-02-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court on Thursday refused to entertain a plea seeking a CBI probe into the alleged molestation of students during a cultural festival at the all-woman Gargi College here last week. A 3-judge bench of S A Bobde, CJ and BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ asked lawyer M L Sharma, who mentioned the matter seeking urgent hearing, to move the Delhi High Court with his plea.

“Why don’t you go to the Delhi HC. If they dismiss the petition then you come here,”

The Court said it would like to have advantage of Delhi HC’s view on this matter.

Advocate Sharma expressed apprehension that electronic evidence related to the case might be destroyed.

On this, the Court said,

“Delhi High Court can also pass order like the Telangana High Court in the police encounter case to preserve electronic evidence”.

(Source: PTI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Constitution Benches)

Supreme Court: The 9-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ, hearing the Sabarimala reference has held that the Supreme Court can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its review jurisdiction. The bench had, on February 6, 2020, reserved it’s order on the said legal issue while hearing the Sabarimala reference after renowned jurist and senior advocate Fali Nariman objected to the manner in which the Supreme Court turned a review of the Sabarimala case into an opportunity to set up a nine-judge Bench and examine whether certain essential religious practices of various faiths, including Islam and Zoroastrianism, should be constitutionally protected.

The Court also framed 7 seven questions that are to be decided by the 9-judge bench in the Sabarimala reference and has proposed a day-to-day hearing in the matter from February 17, 2020. The issues to be heard relate to:

  • What is the scope and ambit of right to freedom of religion under Article 25 of the Constitution of India?
  •  What is the inter-play between the rights of persons under Article 25 of the Constitution of India and rights of religious denomination under Article 26 of the Constitution of India?
  • Whether the rights of a religious denomination under Article 26 of the Constitution of India are subject to other provisions of Part III of the Constitution of India apart from public order, morality and health?
  • What is the scope and extent of the word ‘morality’ under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India and whether it is meant to include Constitutional morality?
  • What is the scope and extent of judicial review with regard to a religious practice as referred to in Article 25 of the Constitution of India?
  • What is the meaning of expression “Sections of Hindus” occurring in Article 25 (2) (b) of the Constitution of India?
  • Whether a person not belonging to a religious denomination or religious group can question a practice of that religious denomination or religious group by filing a PIL?

Earlier, CJI Bobde had said that the court will examine the matter and hear the scope of judicial review on the point of religious faith and women’s rights. He had fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari.
The Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing. The Counsels were, however, unabale to reach a consensus on the issues to be argued. 

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.

[Kantaru Rajeevaru v. Indian Young Lawyers Assn, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 158 , decided on 10.02.2020]

Also read:Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 9-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ, hearing the Sabarimala reference has reserved it’s order on the legal issue of whether the Supreme Court can refer questions of law to a larger bench while exercising its review jurisdiction. The bench will pronounce the order on February 10, 2020 and will accord a day-to-day hearing from February 12, 2020 on issues relating to discrimination against women at various places of worship including the Sabarimala temple.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before the Court that the 5-judge bench in Kantaru Rajeevaru v. India Young Lawyers’ Association, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1461 was right in referring the questions of law to the larger bench. He said,

“As custodian of fundamental rights, it was the duty of the court to lay down an authoritative pronouncement on these questions of law.”

Senior advocate Fali S Nariman opposed the submission and said that only the President can ask questions of national importance, not the court.

Earlier, the bench had agreed to hear the argument on the issue whether the court can refer questions of law to a larger bench on a review petition after renowned jurist and senior advocate Fali Nariman objected to the manner in which the Supreme Court turned a review of the Sabarimala case into an opportunity to set up a nine-judge Bench and examine whether certain essential religious practices of various faiths, including Islam and Zoroastrianism, should be constitutionally protected.

In our report dated 14.11.2019, we had pointed out that the order passed by the 5-judge bench in Kantaru Rajeevaru v. India Young Lawyers’ Association, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1461 was debatable as involved a reference to a larger bench in a review petition. We wrote,

“If it is believed that a reference has indeed been made in the majority verdict, it will again be debatable on the ground that a reference cannot be made in a review petition. A judgment of the Supreme Court of is final, and a review of such judgment is an exception. Whatever the Court decides in a Review Petition become the law. So will a reference of a review petition to a larger bench mean creation of a new forum? Too many loose ends have been left in the majority verdict that the Court will have to tie up sooner or later.”

The bench is hearing matters relating to discrimination against women in various religions including Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, mosques, the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community and Parsi women married to non-Parsi men being barred from its holy fire temple.

Overlapping or related issues pending before the Supreme Court

Earlier, CJI Bobde had said that the court will examine the matter and hear the scope of judicial review on the point of religious faith and women’s rights. He had fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari.
The Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing.

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.

(With inputs from News18)


Also read:

Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A nine-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court will hear on February 6 argument on the issue whether the court can refer questions of law to a larger bench on a review petition after renowned jurist and senior advocate Fali Nariman objected to the manner in which the Supreme Court turned a review of the Sabarimala case into an opportunity to set up a nine-judge Bench and examine whether certain essential religious practices of various faiths, including Islam and Zoroastrianism, should be constitutionally protected.

CJI asked,

“Are you saying that when hearing the review of one judgment [Sabarimala in this case], we cannot refer such larger questions to a larger Bench?”

To which Mr. Nariman responded,

“Yes, that is absolutely right. It will be outside your jurisdiction to do that,”

Finding a formidable point in Mr. Nariman’s arguments, CJI said that the nine-judge Bench would not “abort the hearing” now but the objections raised by Mr. Nariman would be framed as an “issue” to be decided by the Bench.

In our report dated 14.11.2019, we had pointed out that the order passed by the 5-judge bench in Kantaru Rajeevaru v. India Young Lawyers’ Association, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1461 was debatable as involved a reference to a larger bench in a review petition. We wrote,

“If it is believed that a reference has indeed been made in the majority verdict, it will again be debatable on the ground that a reference cannot be made in a review petition. A judgment of the Supreme Court of is final, and a review of such judgment is an exception. Whatever the Court decides in a Review Petition become the law. So will a reference of a review petition to a larger bench mean creation of a new forum? Too many loose ends have been left in the majority verdict that the Court will have to tie up sooner or later.”

The bench is hearing matters relating to discrimination against women in various religions including Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, mosques, the practice of female genital mutilation in the Dawoodi Bohra community and Parsi women married to non-Parsi men being barred from its holy fire temple.

Overlapping or related issues pending before the Supreme Court

Earlier, CJI Bobde had said that the court will examine the matter and hear the scope of judicial review on the point of religious faith and women’s rights. He had fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari.
The Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing.

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.


Also read:

Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The nine-judge bench of Supreme Court will hear the Sabarimala  matter again on Thursday after hearing the matter today.

Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta told the Court that the issues can be framed in the chambers itself. He stated that there is no need to frame the questions and other issues if relevant, in an open court. After hearing Mehta’s submissions, CJI SA Bobde observed that there are questions that arose in Sabarimala, and also there are questions that are there in other cases such as Muslim women’s demand to enter mosques, and the FGM in Dawoodi Bohras and whether Parsi women married to non-Parsis lose religion.

Earlier, CJI Bobde had said that the court will examine the matter and hear the scope of judicial review on the point of religious faith and women’s rights. He had fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari.
The Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing.

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.

(With inputs from ANI)



Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by CJI Sharad Arvind Bobde has fixed a 10-day period for concluding the hearing on the petition seeking women’s entry into Sabarimala temple, mosques, and Parsi Agiyari. The bench was hearing the petitions pertaining to the discrimination against women at places of worship.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta mentioned the matter before the Court and said that all the lawyers from various parties in the case sat together and discussed the issue but could not reach a consensus on the matter, which is to be heard by a 9-judge constitution bench.
The Supreme Court had on January 13 said that it will only hear the questions referred to in the review order passed by it in November last year in the Sabarimala temple case, which allowed women and girls of all age groups to visit the shrine in Kerala. The bench had asked counsels to consult each other and decide which issue is to be argued by whom as done during Ayodhya hearing.

The Court had in November last year, suggested that the Sabarimala issue along with other related issues, be heard by a larger bench of at least 7-judges.

The court is hearing a clutch of petitions seeking reconsideration of its September 2018 judgment that lifted the bar on menstruating women from worshipping in the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Court in a landmark 4:1 ruling had set aside decades-old restrictions on the entry of women of menstruating age inside the temple.
The verdict had sparked a series of protests across the state, which eventually led to the filing of several petitions seeking review of the top court’s order challenging the authority of the court to intervene in a belief of the people.

(With inputs from ANI)



Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

Sabarimala Review Petitions Not Referred To A Larger Bench, But Kept Pending. Here’s What Supreme Court Has Actually Held

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A nine-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde will hear from January 13 the issue of allowing women and girls of all ages to enter Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, along with the other contentious issues of alleged discrimination against Muslim and Parsi women.

The other judges on the bench are Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, L Nageswara Rao, M M Shantanagoudar, S A Nazeer, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant. Interestingly, none of the nine judges has previously been a part of any bench hearing the Sabarimala issue.  

The nine-judge bench has been set up after a five-judge bench headed by then CJI Ranjan Gogoi, by a 3:2 majority verdict, suggested that the matter be referred to a seven-judge bench while examining the review petition filed against the historic September 28, 2018 judgement which had allowed women of all ages to enter Sabarimala temple. The judgment dated 14.11.2019, delivered right before the retirement of the then CJI Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said,

“This Court should evolve a judicial policy befitting to its plenary powers to do substantial and complete justice and for an authoritative enunciation of the constitutional principles by a larger bench of not less than seven judges.”

Referring the issues connected to the case at hand, CJ Gogoi wrote that it may not be inappropriate if matters involving seminal issues including the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution touching upon the right to profess, practise and propagate its own religion, are heard by larger bench of commensurate number of JudgesHe, hence, ‘suggested’ that a 7-judge bench be formed to decide the abovementioned issues.

Besdies Justice Gogoi, Justices A M Khanwilkar and Indu Malhotra (the lone woman judge on the bench) were in majority while Justices R F Nariman and D Y Chandrachud had penned a minority verdict on November 14, 2019.

The top court had on Monday issued a notice informing about listing of the petition filed by Indian Young Lawyers Association seeking review of the 2018 judgement.

However, the names of the judges were announced today.

Questions that the Larger Bench ‘may’ take up for consideration as suggested in the November 14, 2019 verdict

  • Interplay between the freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution and other provisions in Part III, particularly Article 14.
  • Sweep of expression ‘public order, morality and health’ occurring in Article 25(1) of the Constitution.
  • Sweep of expression ‘morality’ or ‘constitutional morality. Is it over arching morality in reference to preamble or limited to religious beliefs or faith? There is need to delineate the contours of that expression, lest it becomes subjective.
  • The extent to which the court can enquire into the issue of a particular practice is an integral part of the religion or religious practice of a particular religious denomination or should that be left exclusively to be determined by the head of the section of the religious group.
  • Meaning of the expression ‘sections of Hindus’ appearing in Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution.
  • Whether the “essential religious practices” of a religious denomination, or even a section thereof are afforded constitutional protection under Article 26.
  • What would be the permissible extent of judicial recognition to PILs in matters calling into question religious practices of a denomination or a section thereof at the instance of persons who do not belong to such religious denomination?

The majority verdict also suggested that the Larger Bench may also decide the question as to whether the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 govern the Sabarimala temple at all.

(With inputs from PTI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Constitution Benches)

Supreme Court: The 5-judge Constitution Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ has referred certain seminal issues to a larger bench in a 3:2 verdict. CJI Gogoi, Khanwilkar and Malhotra, JJ gave the majority opinion of referring the the questions to larger bench, whereas Nariman and Chandrachud, JJ gave dissenting opinions.

Due to the reference being made to the larger bench, the subject review petitions as well as the writ petitions will remain pending until determination of the questions indicated hereunder by a Larger Bench.

Surprisingly, the majority verdict runs in only 6-pages in a 77-pages long verdict.

Majority Verdict by CJ Gogoi for himself & Khanwilkar & Malhotra, JJ

“This Court should evolve a judicial policy befitting to its plenary powers to do substantial and complete justice and for an authoritative enunciation of the constitutional principles by a larger bench of not less than seven judges.”

Referring the issues connected to the case at hand, CJ Gogoi wrote that it may not be inappropriate if matters involving seminal issues including the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution touching upon the right to profess, practise and propagate its own religion, are heard by larger bench of commensurate number of Judges. He, hence, ‘suggested’ that a 7-judge bench be formed to decide the abovementioned issues. 

Questions that the Larger Bench ‘may’ take up for consideration

  • Interplay between the freedom of religion under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution and other provisions in Part III, particularly Article 14.
  • Sweep of expression ‘public order, morality and health’ occurring in Article 25(1) of the Constitution.
  • Sweep of expression ‘morality’ or ‘constitutional morality. Is it over arching morality in reference to preamble or limited to religious beliefs or faith? There is need to delineate the contours of that expression, lest it becomes subjective.
  • The extent to which the court can enquire into the issue of a particular practice is an integral part of the religion or religious practice of a particular religious denomination or should that be left exclusively to be determined by the head of the section of the religious group.
  • Meaning of the expression ‘sections of Hindus’ appearing in Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution.
  • Whether the “essential religious practices” of a religious denomination, or even a section thereof are afforded constitutional protection under Article 26.
  • What would be the permissible extent of judicial recognition to PILs in matters calling into question religious practices of a denomination or a section thereof at the instance of persons who do not belong to such religious denomination?

The majority verdict also suggested that the Larger Bench may also decide the question as to whether the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 govern the Sabarimala temple at all.

Overlapping or related issues pending before the Supreme Court

“The debate about the constitutional validity of practices entailing into restriction of entry of women generally in the place of worship is not limited to this case, but also arises in respect of entry of Muslim women in a Durgah/Mosque as also in relation to Parsi women married to a non-Parsi into the holy fire place of an Agyari.”

The Court also took note of other seminal issues arising in the pending cases regarding entry of Muslim Women in Durgah/Mosque; Parsi Women married to a non-Parsi in the Agyari; and including the practice of female genital mutilation in Dawoodi Bohra community and said that these issues may be overlapping and covered by the judgment under review and hence, the prospect of the issues arising in those cases being referred to larger bench cannot be ruled out.

    • Muslim Women in Durgah/Mosque Case is pending before a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, SA Nazeer and Krishna Murari, JJ. On November 5, 2019, the bench had adjourned the matter for 10 days which means that the matter will now be taken up after Justice Bobde takes charge of the CJI office.
    • Parsi Women married to a non-Parsi in the Agyari case was referred to a 5-judge bench by a 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ in October, 2017. The 5-judge bench of former CJ Dipak Misra and AK Sikri, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan, JJ last heard the matter on December 14, 2017. [2017 SCC OnLine SC 1275]
    • Case relating to practice of female genital mutilation in Dawoodi Bohra community was referred to a larger bench on September 24, 2018 by a 3-judge bench of former CJ Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, JJ. The Constitution bench is yet to be formed. [2018 SCC OnLine SC 2667]

Stay on the 2018 verdict

The verdict is silent on whether there will be a stay on the 2018 Sabarimala Verdict which means that the said judgment will continue to hold ground till the review petitions are finally decided by the Court.

Why the majority verdict is debatable?

‘Suggestive’ reference

The verdict does not make a clear reference of issues to a larger bench. The wordsthe prospect of the issues arising in those cases being referred to larger bench cannot be ruled outused in the majority verdict may mean to imply that the reference made by the Court is merely ‘suggestive’.

Nariman, J’s minority opinion also talks about the ‘suggestive’ nature of the references when it says,

“if and when the issues that have been set out in the learned Chief Justice’s judgment arise in future, they can appropriately be dealt with by the bench/benches which hear the petitions concerning Muslims, Parsis and Dawoodi Bohras.”

Hence, it would not be completely wrong to say that this judgment merely suggests the Benches in the abovementioned 3 cases to refer the issues listed down by it to a larger bench if it thinks fit.

Reference of a review petition

If it is believed that a reference has indeed been made in the majority verdict, it will again be debatable on the ground that a reference cannot be made in a review petition. A judgment of the Supreme Court of is final, and a review of such judgment is an exception. Whatever the Court decides in a Review Petition become the law. So will a reference of a review petition to a larger bench mean creation of a new forum? Too many loose ends have been left in the majority verdict that the Court will have to tie up sooner or later.

It is also pertinent to note that in the majority verdict, no ‘error on the face of record’ has been pointed out. In fact, the majority verdict has not answered the review at all. Which explains why the majority verdict runs in only 6 pages and 9 paras.

Dissenting opinion by Nariman, J for himself and Chandrachud, J

“Bona fide criticism of a judgment, albeit of the highest court of the land, is certainly permissible, but thwarting, or encouraging persons to thwart, the directions or orders of the highest court cannot be countenanced in our Constitutional scheme of things.”

Disagreeing with the majority opinion that the Review Petitions be kept in a lurch while the larger bench decides the seminal issues concerning right to religion and women rights, Nariman and Chandrachud, JJ said that the only issue before the Court in the present case was the review petitions and the writ petitions that were filed in relation to the judgment in Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC Online SC 1690.

Stating that if and when the issues that have been set out in the learned Chief Justice’s judgment arise in future, they can appropriately be dealt with by the bench/benches which hear the petitions concerning Muslims, Parsis and Dawoodi Bohras, Nariman and Chandrachud, J said,

“What a future constitution bench or larger bench, if constituted by the learned Chief Justice of India, may or may not do when considering the other issues pending before this Court is, strictly speaking, not before this Court at all.”

They, hence, went on to examine the issue at hand and noticed that there was a clear consensus on the following 3 issues:

  • The devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination and cannot, therefore, claim the benefit of Article 26 or the proviso to Section 3 of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act, 1965.
  • The four majority judgments specifically grounded the right of women between the ages of 10 to 50, who are excluded from practicing their religion, under Article 25(1) of the Constitution, emphasizing the expression “all persons” and the expression “equally” occurring in that Article, so that this right is equally available to both men and women of all ages professing the same religion.
  • Section 3 of the 1965 Act traces its origin to Article 25(2)(b) of the Constitution of India, and would apply notwithstanding any custom to the contrary, to enable Hindu women the right of entry 18 in all public temples open to Hindus, so that they may exercise the right of worship therein. As a concomitant thereof, Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 is violative of Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India and ultra vires Section 3 of the 1965 Act.

Given the consensus on the three issues delineated above, Nariman, J, hence, wrote that no ground for review of the majority judgments was made out and the review petitions were hence dismissed.

Nariman and Chandrachud, JJ, hence, directed the State of Kerala to give wide publicity to the 2018 Sabarimala judgment through the medium of television, newspapers, etc. Pressing upon the need to implement the 2018 Sabarimala Verdict, they asked the government to take steps to secure the confidence of the community in order to ensure the fulfillment of constitutional values. The State government may have broad-based consultations with representatives of all affected interests so that the modalities devised for implementing the judgment of the Court meet the genuine concerns of all segments of the community, Nariman, J said in the minority opinion.

[Kantaru Rajeevaru v. India Young Lawyers’ Association, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1461, decided on 14.11.2019]


Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi dismissed a plea of a Kerala-based outfit challenging the constitutional validity of an ordinance which makes the practice of instant ‘triple talaq’ a punishable offence. The Court said that it would not like to interfere.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance was first notified on September 19 last year, hours after the Union Cabinet had cleared it.

Instant ‘triple talaq’, also known as ‘talaq-e-biddat’, is an instant divorce whereby a Muslim man can legally divorce his wife by pronouncing ‘talaq’ three times in one go.

The ordinance making the practice of instant ‘triple talaq’ a punishable offence was issued for the third time in less than a year on February 21.

(Source: PTI)

Also read:

In the historic judgment, SC says that Triple Talaq is not fundamental to Islam; Practice set aside by a 3:2 majority

Lok Sabha passes Bill making Triple Talaq unconstitutional

‘Triple Talaq Ordinance’ promulgated in wake of ending the arbitrary custom of oral unilateral divorce

The Triple Talaq Bill passed in Lok Sabha

Triple Talaq ordinance re-promulgated

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 5-judge Constitution Bench of Ranjan Gogoi, CJ and RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, JJ has reserved verdict on a batch of petitions seeking review of its September 28, 2018 judgement that allowed women of all age groups to enter the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

In the September 28, 2018 verdict the 5-judge Constitution Bench held that not allowing women of any age group to enter the Sabarimala Temple was unconstitutional. The lone dissenting opinion in the matter was that of Justice Indu Malhotra, who said:

“the right to move the Supreme Court under Article 32 for violation of Fundamental Rights, must be based on a pleading that the petitioner’s personal rights to worship in the Temple have been violated. the petitioners herein did not claim to be devotees of the Sabarimala temple. The absence of this bare minimum requirement must not be viewed as a mere technicality, but an essential requirement to maintain a challenge for impugning practices of any religious sect, or denomination.”

She was also of the opinion that in the case of the Sabarimala Temple, the manifestation is in the form of a ‘Naishtik Brahmachari’. The belief in a deity, and the form in which he has manifested himself is a fundamental right protected by Article 25(1) of the Constitution.

Read more about the opinions of all the judges in the 4:1 majority verdict here.

(With inputs from PTI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After conducting a 6-day hearing during summer vacations, the historic verdict on the validity of Triple Talaq is out and this is what the 5-judge Constitution Bench has held:

“In view of the different opinions recorded, by a majority of 3:2 the practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ – triple talaq is set aside.”

The 395-pages long judgment begins with the dissenting opinion of JS Khehar, CJ and SA Nazeer, J where the judges asked the Union of India to consider appropriate legislation, particularly with reference to ‘talaq-e-biddat’ and requested the different political parties to keep their individual political gains apart, while considering the necessary measures requiring legislation. CJI, writing the judgment for himself and Nazeer, J said that till the time a law comes into force, the Muslim husbands should be injuncted from pronouncing ‘talaq-e-biddat’ as a means for severing their matrimonial relationship. The instant injunction will be operative for a period of six months and if the legislative process commences before the expiry of the period of six months, and a positive decision emerges towards redefining ‘talaq-ebiddat’ (three pronouncements of ‘talaq’, at one and the same time) – as one, or alternatively, if it is decided that the practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ be done away with altogether, the injunction would continue, till legislation is finally enacted. Failing which, the injunction shall cease to operate.

Stating that while examining issues falling in the realm of religious practices or ‘personal law’, it is not for a court to make a choice of something which it considers as forward looking or non-fundamentalist, the 2 judges said,

“It is not for a court to determine whether religious practices were prudent or progressive or regressive. Religion and ‘personal law’, must be perceived, as it is accepted, by the followers of the faith. And not, how another would like it to be.”

CJI and Nazeer, J also took note of the fact that the AIMPLB has undertaken to issue an advisory through its website, to advise those who enter into a matrimonial alliance, to agree in the ‘nikah-nama’, that their marriage would not be dissolvable by ‘talaq-e-biddat’.

Nariman, J, writing down the majority judgment for himself and Lalit, J noted that given the fact that Triple Talaq is instant and irrevocable, it is obvious that any attempt at reconciliation between the husband and wife by two arbiters from their families, which is essential to save the marital tie, cannot ever take place. It was held that this form of Talaq is manifestly arbitrary in the sense that the marital tie can be broken capriciously and whimsically by a Muslim man without any attempt at reconciliation so as to save it. This form of Talaq must, therefore, be held to be violative of the fundamental right contained under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The Court, hence, held that the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937, insofar as it seeks to recognize and enforce Triple Talaq, is within the meaning of the expression “laws in force” in Article 13(1) and must be struck down as being void to the extent that it recognizes and enforces Triple Talaq. After going through the Hanafi jurisprudence, the Court noticed that very jurisprudence castigates Triple Talaq as being sinful. The Court said that Triple Talaq is a form of Talaq which is itself considered to be something innovative, namely, that it is not in the Sunna, being an irregular or heretical form of Talaq, it was held that:

“the fundamental nature of the Islamic religion, as seen through an Indian Sunni Muslim’s eyes, will not change without this practice.”

It was, hence, held that Triple Talaq was not a part of Article 25(1) of the Constitution and hence, the Muslim Personal Board that the ball must be bounced back to the legislature does not hold good as Article 25(2)(b) would only apply if a particular religious practice is first covered under Article 25(1) of the Constitution.

Joseph, J, writing down a separate judgment but agreeing with the majority opinion, said,

“Merely because a practice has continued for long, that by itself cannot make it valid if it has been expressly declared to be impermissible.”

He said that the purpose of the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 was to declare Shariat as the rule of decision and to discontinue anti-Shariat practices with respect to subjects enumerated in Section 2 which include talaq and therefore, in any case, after the introduction of the 1937 Act, no practice against the tenets of Quran is permissible and hence, there cannot be any Constitutional protection to such a practice. [Shayara Bano v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 963, decided on 22.08.2017]

 

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The Constitution bench of 5 judges belonging to 5 different faiths started hearing the Triple Talaq matter on 11.05.2017. The Bench comprising of J.S. Khehar, CJI and Kurian Joseph, U.U. Lalit, R.F. Nariman and Abdul Nazeer, JJ is hearing the matter on day-to-day basis.

Day 6, May 18th, 2017

  • Amit Chadha, appearing for Shayara Bano: In my opinion, Triple Talaq is a sin and is between me and my maker.
  • Kapil Sibal to SC: Only Legislation can interfere in the matters relating to sinful practices in any religion, not you.
  • AIMPLB: We will, within a week, issue an advisory to Qazis to inform every bride her right to specifically mention in the Nikahnama that she will not accept instant triple talaq.
  • SC reserves it’s judgment after 6 day long hearing.

Day 5, May 17th, 2017

  • J.S. Khehar, CJI to AIMPLB: Is it possible to give bride the right that she will not accept instant triple talaq and whether the board’s advisory will be followed by the Qazi at the ground level? Can’t there be a modern and model Nikah Nama to provide for talaq? New Nikah Nama can also do away with instant Triple Talaq and Nikah Nama.
  • Yousuf Muchala, appearing for AIMPLB: Board’s advisory is not mandatory for all Qazis to follow, however, AIMPLB accepts the suggestions in all humility and will look into it. AIMPLB also showed a resolution passed on 14.04.2017 which says Triple Talaq is a sin and community should boycott person doing it.
  • Yusouf Muchala: A Muslim woman has every right to pronounce Triple Talaq in all forms, and also to ask for very high ‘mehr’ amount in case of talaq.
  • SC: Triple Talaq is not a part of Quran. It came later. So if biddat is a sin then why not Talaq-e-biddat i.e. Instant triple talaq? (Note:- Biddat or Bid’ah refers to innovation in religious matters & evil innovations are forbidden under Islamic law.)
  • Senior Advocate V. Giri: Triple Talaq is a part of religion and hence, it is protected by Article 25 of the Constitution.
  • SC: If you yourself say triple talaq is the worst form of divorce and sinful, how does it then become essential to religion? Protection of Article 25 is applicable only when it is about a practice which is essential to your religions and not for what is not essential.
  • V. Giri: Talaq-e-Biddat finds mention in para 230 of Surah 65 of the Quran.
  • SC (after reading out the versus from the Quran): There is absolutely no mention of Talaq-e-Biddat in the Quran, and only two other forms of talaq,  i.e. Talaq-e-Ehsan and Talaq-e-Ahsan, are mentioned in the holy book. You have to read all the paras before and after to give a complete picture. This book says that in every Friday prayers, you say that biddat is bad and should not be practised by any means and now you say it is part of your 1400-year-old faith.
  • Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran: Judiciary cannot dictate to a religious community what personal law practices and norms to follow. A community follows practices that it finds relevant for itself and not what an outsider tells it. India has an express reservation in Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It says that the State follows a policy of non-interference with the personal law practices of any community, unless the community itself takes the initiative to change.
  • Indira Jaising, appearing for Bebak Collective, a Muslim women organisation: But Article I of the CEDAW defines “discrimination against women” and Article 2 obliges the State to act against all forms of discrimination against women.
  • Advocate General Mukul Rohatgi: Issue of Triple Talaq is not an issue of majority or minority. It is an issue of a minority community and that of women within that community.  If Triple Talaq is not present in 25 countries then it cannot be said to be essential to Islam. Rights governed by Article 25 of Constitution are not absolute. Sati, Devdasi etc were once part of Hinduism and were later abolished.
  • CJI: But which one them was set aside by the Court? The were all abolished by bringing in legislation.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Government will do what is necessary but the Court must step in.
  • Indira Jaising: The key question would be whether personal laws will have to stand scrutiny of fundamental laws. At the end of the day, all the systems will have to comply with the Constitution.
  • Day 5 hearing concludes.

Day 4, May 16th, 2017

  • Kapil Sibal on behalf of AIMPLB: Triple Talaq is a 1400 year old practice. Who are we to call it un-Islamic? He adds that Triple Talaq is not a matter of equity of or good conscience. It is a matter of faith just like the Hindu belief that Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya. Just like the Hindus’ faith about Rama’s birth at Ayodhya cannot be questioned, similarly Triple Talaq which is also a matter of faith for Muslims should not be questioned. There is no question of Constitutional Morality involved. Why should Court interfere?
  • R.F. Nariman, J: You mean we shouldn’t hear the matter?.
  • Kapil Sibal: “Yes, you shouldn’t”. In a Hindu majority country, Muslims have to be protected and vice-versa.
  • Kapil Sibal: The dispute is not just the issue of triple talaq but the prevalence of patriarchy among communities. All patriarchal societies are partial. Is it better for a woman to apply for divorce and fight for 16 years and get nothing?
  • Kurian Joseph, J: Are e-divorces also taking place?
  • Kapil Sibal: Divorces are happening even through whatsapp.
  • Kapil Sibal: We are not saying that Triple Talaq is good and should continue permanently. We also want to change but somebody else should not interfere & force the change on us.
  • Kapil Sibal ended his submissions for the day by saying the issue of Triple Talaq cannot be decided in 6 days.

Day 3, May 15th, 2017

  • Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi suggests the hearing of the issues relating to polygamy and Nikah Halala along with Triple Talaq. The bench says that the said matters will be taken up in future. The present hearing will be limited to the issue of Triple Talaq sue to time constraint.
  • Arguing on behalf of the Government, Attorney General: Most radical countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are moving towards reforms but we, as a secular State, are still debating. You are guardians of the constitution. Examine if Triple Talaq is permissible under the constitution. The Government will bring a law if Triple Talaq is abolished. people will not be left in lurch.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: We are the guardians of minority as well as the majority. We will strike down Triple Talaq if Government can establish that it is not an integral part of Islam
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Supreme Court is not an ecclesiastical court to check whether Triple Talaq is essential to Islam or not. Stating that the Court was looking to the problem from wrong abgle, he said that Issues of Muslim marriage and divorce were separated from religion in Shariat Act way back in 1937 itself. The matter should be decided on the basis of fundamental rights of gender equality & human rights under Arts 14, 15, 21 & 51A of the Constitution.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: The tenets of religion can neither be tested on scientific grounds or on other grounds.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Why is the matter being argued before the Constitution Bench then?. Matters are referred to the Constitution Bench because they have something to do with the Constitution. Nothing, no advocacy by man, will help cover something that is wrong by the Constitution.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: Women lived in fear of Sati until the law declared it illegal. Muslim women want freedom to live without fear of Triple Talaq.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: Women should be equal, but within the particular religion.
  • Mukul Rohatgi: A constitution bench cannot shut eyes to a Muslim woman’s constitutional rights of equality and gender justice.

Day 2, May 12th, 2017:

  • Court resumes the hearing.
  • R.F. Nariman, J.: One should see difference between theory & practicality at present context in the context of Nikah & Talaq in Islam.
  • Salman Khurshid: Triple Talaq is not practiced anywhere except India.
  • SC: Why all other countries say it is not valid in Islam?
  • Salman Khurshid: Triple Talaq is sinful and is discouraged. But still, it is valid in law.
  • SC: Is it like death penalty, which for some is sinful but legal. If lawful man can be sinful? What is sin in the eyes of God, can it be valid in law?
  • Salman Khurshi: It cannot be.
  • SC: We have to understand the religion from the point of view of what religion says not what you understand in order to test it on the principle of Article 25 (freedom to practice religion) of the Constitution. Tell us whether Triple Talaq is a custom/usage or fundamental to Islam. Where does it lie, Shariat or customs and usage?
  • Senior Advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Forum for Awareness of National Security: Triple Talaq violates Article 14 as it gives the right to terminate marriage only to men and not to women.
  • J.S. Khehar, CJI: The Court is dealing with Personal Law in the present matter and  Article 15 of the Constitution talks about State law.
  • Ram Jethmalani: Triple Talaq makes a distinction on the ground of sex & this method is abhorrent to the tenets of holy Quran and no law can allow a wife to become an ex-wife at the fancy of the husband. No amount of advocacy can or will save this sinful, repugnant practice which is contrary to the constitutional provisions.
  • SC: There are some school of thoughts which say that Triple Talaq is legal but it is the worst and an undesirable form of marriage dissolution.
  • The matter is listed for further hearing on 15.05.2017 as part heard.

Day 1, May 11th, 2017:

  • Amit Singh Chadha, appearing for one of the petitioners Shayara Bano: The practice of Triple Talaq is not fundamental to Islam and hence can be done away with. Islamic countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have also declared it to be invalid.
  • SC: We would peruse the prevalent laws in various Islamic countries on the issue.
  • Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for petitioners: In case of divorces being granted through extra-judicial mechanism, there should be a “judicial oversight” to deal with the consequences.
  • Senior advocate Salman Khurshid, assisting the Court in his personal capacity and Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing on behalf of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board: Triple Talaq is a non issue.
  • Kapil Sibal: No prudent Muslim would wake up one fine morning and say talaq, talaq and talaq. Salman Khurshid said Triple Talaq not considered complete without conciliation efforts between the husband and the wife.
  • SC: Is the reconciliation after the pronouncement of triple talaq in one go codified?
  • Salman Khurshid: No, it’s not
  • Kapil Sibal: Triple Talaq issue is outside the ambit of judicial review.
  • SC: The issue is, in fact, prima facie related to fundamental rights.
  • SC: If Triple Talaq is declared invalid, what will be the procedure available to husband for seeking divorce? Will it not create a vacuum?

It is important to note that recently on 19.04.2017, the Allahabad High Court has termed triple talaq as unconstitutional, observing that the practice is violation of a woman’s rights. The Constitution bench is hearing the matter during the summer vacations of the Court, in the suo motu proceedings initiated by the Court in In Re: Muslim Women’s Quest for Equality v. Jamiat Ulma-I-Hind, SMW(C) No. 2/2015 with a bunch of related petitions being merged with the case.

Source: PTI & ANI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Pained by the sorrowful fate of a young girl who committed suicide as an outcome of the psychological harassment and continuous eve-teasing by the accused, the Court said that in a civilized society male chauvinism has no room. A woman has her own space as a man has. She enjoys as much equality under Article 14 of the Constitution as a man does. The right to live with dignity as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution cannot be violated by indulging in obnoxious act of eve-teasing.

Stating that eve-teasing is causing harassment to women in educational institutions, public places, parks, railways stations and other public places which only go to show that requisite sense of respect for women has not been socially cultivated, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, A.M. Khanwilkar and M.M. Shantanagouda, JJ said that why the women in this country cannot be allowed to live in peace and lead a life that is empowered with a dignity and freedom.

In the present case, where the trial court had acquitted the accused by disregarding the version of parents of the deceased and other witnesses and treating the dying declaration as invalid on the ground that the deceased was not in a position to speak and there was no medical certificate appended as regards her fitness as the deceased had sustained 80% burn injuries as she had set herself ablaze in an attempt to end her life, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had reversed the order of acquittal. It was held that there is no reason to disregard the dying declaration as the Head Constable has recorded it as narrated by the deceased and the deceased has also written few words about the accused.

Stating that the instant case portrays the deplorable depravity of the appellant that has led to a heart-breaking situation for a young girl who has been compelled to put an end to her life, the Court held that the High Court has absolutely correctly reversed the judgment of acquittal and imposed the sentence. It has appositely exercised the jurisdiction and we concur with the same. [Pawan Kumar v. State of H.P., 2017 SCC OnLine SC 509, decided on 28.04.2017]