Muslim Law Board: Courts can’t interfere in personal law

Personal laws can’t be challenged as that would be a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, said the All India Muslim Personal Law Board on Friday in a reply to the SC on the issue of triple talaq. The board also said personal laws, which are based on the scriptures and customs of each major religious community in India, can’t be rewritten in the name of social reform and that the courts can’t interfere in them.
“Courts can’t supplant their own interpretations,” the Muslim Personal Law Board said. Last year, the Supreme Court, of its own accord and not based on any petition, began to examine the effect of ‘triple talaq’ on Muslim women’s rights. Many women complain that triple talaq is abused by Muslim men to arbitrarily get a divorce.
The Board also said today that Article 44 of the non-binding directive principles is not enforceable by virtue of the fact that it’s a directive. Article 44 says that the state shall endeavour to secure for citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India. At the last hearing in the SC in June, the Board said there has already been a court ruling which barred courts from examining the validity of personal law practices. At the time, senior advocate Indira Jaising, who appeared for two NGOs, said the Board was referring to a very old judgement given by the first Indian chief justice of the Bombay High Court. The Supreme Court bench then said it had an open mind on the issue. “If the issue – whether the court can test the validity of a personal law practice – requires reconsideration, we might refer the matter to a larger bench. But, let us first examine what is the scope of the court’s adjudication power in this context,” it said. Since the top court began to examine the matter, Shayara Banu, a victim of the practice, as well as many Muslim women’s organisations have jumped into the fray to question
its validity.
The Supreme Court has permitted a host of people, NGOs and women’s organisations, including the Mumbai-based Centre for Study of Society and Secularism and the Bebaak Collective to become parties in the pending proceedings.

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