The Supreme Court said, on Wednesday, that divorce through 'triple talaq' among Muslims is a "very important matter affecting a large section of people" which has to be tested on the "touchstone of constitutional framework".
However, the bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice AM Khanwilker, added, "We are straightaway not jumping to any conclusion. It has to be seen if there is a need for any further consideration of law by the constitution bench." It said it will see if there was any error in previous judgements that dealt with the issue, and decide whether the question must be referred to a larger or a five-judge constitution bench.
"Personal law has to be tested on the touchstone of constitutional framework," it said while stressing that "this is a very important issue affecting a large section of people and there are very strong views from both the sides."
During the hearing, senior advocate Indira Jaising had referred to an old verdict of the Bombay High Court holding that the Personal Law regime cannot be subjected to the fundamental rights.
The counsel appearing for AIMPLB defended the practice of 'triple talaq' and said that it has been held by courts that matters of personal law could not be tested constitutionally.
Wednesday's hearing saw a total of four petitions assailing the concept of divorce through 'triple talaq'. The bench allowed all of them to be impleaded and sought the Centre’s stand on the issue within six weeks.
The bench also said that all parties to the debate were free to participate and express their views.
These remarks came after an advocate, Farah Faiz, sought restraint on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and others from airing their views on public platforms including TV debates.
"We will not be influenced by TV shows. You can also participate in TV shows. We will keep your application pending. If at any stage we find that they are going out of hand, we will intervene," the bench said.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on September 6.