SC to examine issue of discrimination against Muslim women

The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear after three weeks a PIL, instituted by the court itself, to examine whether Muslim women were facing gender discrimination in cases of divorce or due to other marriages of their husbands.

PTI| Updated: Nov 23, 2015, 17:21 PM IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear after three weeks a PIL, instituted by the court itself, to examine whether Muslim women were facing gender discrimination in cases of divorce or due to other marriages of their husbands.

The apex court, on being told that Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi whose assistance has been sought was not served with the notice, deferred the hearing saying "let it come after three weeks."

The lawyer on behalf of National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), which was also urged to be made a party, appeared today before the bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy.

Earlier, another bench headed by Justice AR Dave had asked the CJI to constitute an "appropriate bench" to examine the question as to whether Muslim women were facing gender discrimination.

It had ordered registration of a Public Interest Litigation and putting it up before a new bench to deal with the issues relating to the challenge to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act.

It had noted that the issue was not merely a policy matter but concerns the fundamental rights of the women guaranteed under the Constitution.

The issue had cropped up during the hearing of a matter related to Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act and the bench had noted that "an important issue of gender discrimination which though not directly involved in this appeal, has been raised by some of the counsel for the parties which concerns rights of Muslim women. Discussions on gender discrimination led to this issue also."

The court had said, "it was pointed out that inspite of guarantee of the Constitution, Muslim women are subjected to discrimination. There is no safeguard against arbitrary divorce and second marriage by her husband during currency of the first marriage, resulting in denial of dignity and security to her."

"For this purpose, a PIL be separately registered and put up before the appropriate Bench as per orders of the Chief Justice of India.

"Notice be issued to learned Attorney General and National Legal Services Authority, returnable on November 23. We give liberty to counsel already appearing in this matter to assist the Court on this aspect of the matter, if they wish to volunteer, for either view point," it had added.