The Supreme Court said Thursday it will set up a fresh five-judge Constitution bench at an “appropriate stage” to hear pleas challenging the constitutional validity of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims.
A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala was urged by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, who has filed a PIL on the issue, that section 494 of the Indian Penal Code allows ploygamy, halala etc. and needs to be struck down.
“I will consider it. At an appropriate stage, I will constitute a constitution bench,” the CJI responded.
On August 30 last year, a five-judge bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee, Hemant Gupta, Surya Kant, M M Sundresh and Sudhanshu Dhulia had made the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), National Commission for Women (NCW) and the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) parties to the PILs and sought their responses.
Justice Banerjee and Justice Gupta retired on September 23 and October 6 last year respectively giving rise to the need for re-constitution of the bench to hear as many as eight petitions against the practices of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’.
Upadhyay, in his PIL, has sought a direction to declare polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ unconstitutional and illegal.
While polygamy allows a Muslim man to have four wives, ‘nikah halala’ deals with the process in which a Muslim woman, who wants to re-marry her husband after divorce, has to first marry another person and get a divorce from him after consummation.
The apex court had in July 2018 considered the plea and referred the matter to a Constitution bench already tasked with hearing a batch of similar petitions.