From suo motu to judgment: The arguments for and against triple talaq

Judges choose work over vacation

Break with tradition: The Supreme Court is taking a historic step away from its colonial tradition of a long summer vacation.  

For the first time in recent legal history, the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, will have three Constitution Benches functioning simultaneously, along with the usual vacation Bench, in a historic step away from its colonial tradition of a prolonged summer vacation spanning almost two months from May to July.

This year, more than half the number of the 28 Supreme Court judges will continue to work after the court closes for summer holidays on May 10.

The three Constitution Benches will have five judges each. The Vacation Bench comprising two judges will separately hear urgent cases.

Triple talaq case

The three cases which will come up for hearing before the Constitution Benches are the Muslim women’s plea for a judicial declaration that triple talaq practised in the Islamic law is a violation of their human rights and dignity; whether WhatsApp’s 2016 policy to share user information with Facebook is a violation of citizen privacy; and thirdly, whether the children of illegal Bangladeshi migrants born in India can avail themselves of the benefit of citizenship of this country.

This is not the first time Chief Justice Khehar has worked during the summer vacation. In 2015, a Constitution Bench led by Justice Khehar — he was not CJI then — heard the National Judicial Appointments Commission case throughout the summer vacation. The reason given then was the pile-up in the number of vacancies in the High Courts.

However, this time, the importance of the three issues — triple talaq, privacy of millions of users on WhatsApp and the plight of migrants’ children — have pulled the judges back from enjoying their holidays.

“If we do not hear these matters now, the hearings will never happen,” Chief Justice Khehar told the lawyers assembled in the courtroom.

Another record

If Chief Justice Khehar heads one of the Constitution Bench, he will set another record for posterity for being one of the first Chief Justices of India to work during his summer holidays.

The court had assembled to fix the date for the Constitution Bench hearings on May 11. Some of the senior lawyers, like Kapil Sibal, expressed difficulties in appearing for both triple talaq and WhatsApp cases at the same time. He sought the court to hear the cases one after the other rather than simultaneously.

“This is how we will do it. If you do not want these hearings to happen, do not blame us later. It all depends on you [lawyers], we are ready. If you are not ready, I am very happy to go away and enjoy my vacation,” Chief Justice Khehar put his foot down.

When a matter is referred to a Constitution Bench, it takes a long time for the court to set up one because of the workload and availability of judges like in the case of demonetisation.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 6:10:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/judges-choose-work-over-vacation/article17745760.ece

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