Noting that a religion cannot be “reformed” out of its existence or identity, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on Friday challenged the Supreme Court’s initiative to judicially examine Islamic personal laws relating to marriage and divorce, such as the triple talaq, which discriminate against Muslim women.
The apex Muslim law body of the country accused the Supreme Court of trying to indulge in judicial legislation in the name of “socially reforming” Islamic practices of marriage and divorce. It said the practices depicted in the Holy Quran are out of bounds for the Supreme Court.
‘A directive principle’ The AIMPLB claimed that personal laws of marriage and divorce are outside the purview of the fundamental rights of the Indian Constitution, and Article 44, which envisages a Uniform Civil Code, is only a “directive principle of State policy and not enforceable.”
“In any event, even while bringing in such a social reform, it is not permissible to change the entire practice or acts done in pursuance of such religion,” the Muslim body contended.
It said different religions have different practices of marriage, divorce and maintenance. The AIMPLB asked how the court could decide that a particular religion needs reform and another religion is already reformed.
“Practices in each religion are unique and peculiar to that particular religion only. In such circumstances, one cannot look at the validity of the practices of one religion or judge them as being unequal with the rights in another religion because the practices in each religion are peculiar to only that religion,” the AIMPLB said.
It is not up to the judiciary to “lay down religion for any religious denomination or section.”
“Court cannot supplant its own interpretations over the text of scriptures... whenever the court is confronted with any religious issue, it will look to the religious books of a particular denomination held sacred by it,” the board said.
The effect of Islamic personal law on women recaptured the Supreme Court's attention on October 16, 2015, when a Bench of Justices Anil R. Dave and A.K. Goel directed the registration of a suo motu PIL plea titled ‘Muslim women’s quest for equality.’ The Bench had ordered the PIL petition to be placed before an appropriate three-judge Bench for adjudication.
Subsequently, a slew of petitions were filed in the Supreme Court by Muslim women against their personal law. One of them by Shayara Bano had said that she only wished to “secure a life of dignity, unmarred by discrimination on the basis of gender or religion.”