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Supreme Court agrees for urgent listing of pleas against ‘nikah halala,’ polygamy

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the listing of a batch of petitions challenging the practices of polygamy and ‘nikah halala’ among Muslims.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud considered the submissions of senior advocate V. Shekhar that the petitions be listed before a five-judge constitution bench for final adjudication.

“We will look into it,” the Bench said.

Mr. Shekhar and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, appearing for one of the Delhi-based petitioners Sameena Begum, alleged that she was threatened and asked to withdraw her petition challenging ‘nikah halala’ and polygamy among Muslims.

The bench, meanwhile, allowed Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, to file a response to the petition on the issue.

‘Nikah halala’ is a practice intended to curb the incidence of divorce under which a man cannot remarry his former wife without her having to go through the process of marrying someone else, consummating it, getting divorced and observing a separation period called ‘Iddat’ before coming back to him.

The petition, filed by the Delhi-based woman, has said that by virtue of the Muslim Personal Law and Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code (marrying again during lifetime of husband or wife) was rendered inapplicable to Muslims and no married woman from the community has the avenue of filing a complaint against her husband for the offence of bigamy.

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