India’s Supreme Court on Friday decided to examine the validity of a new law that criminalises the practice of instant divorce, which is practised by some members of the Muslim community, news reports said.
The legislation to ban the practice of “triple talaq” and make it a punishable offence with a maximum of three years’ jail term was passed by the Indian parliament in July.
India has been one of the few countries where a Muslim man could still divorce his wife instantly by saying the word “talaq” (meaning divorce in Arabic) three times in quick succession.
Supreme Court judges issued a notice to the federal government, seeking its response on a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the law, known as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, broadcaster NDTV reported.
Salman Khurshid, a lawyer for one of the petitioners, who include Muslim scholars and clergy, argued several facets of the law including the “excessive and stringent provisions” of three years in jail, required to be examined by the court.
The petitions were filed in the court a day after President Ram Nath Kovind approved the law.
India’s Hindu nationalist government maintains that the law is a move to ensuring gender equality and justice and more than 20 Muslim countries including Pakistan and Malaysia had already banned the practice.
Critics of the practice say it leaves women destitute and robs them of their basic rights.
Opposition parties had objected to the bill, saying the proposed law could be misused to harass Muslims – a vulnerable minority in India – and that it should be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.