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If discriminatory Triple Talaq struck down, then new Divorce Law will come, Centre tells Supreme Court

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Muslim women in India are vulnerable and insecure due to the community's practice that lets Muslim men divorce their wives by saying the word "talaq (divorce) " according to women rights campaigners. (Photo: A. Pasricha/VOA)
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New Delhi, May 15, 2017: The Central government on Monday told the Supreme Court that if the latter invalidates the men-centric triple talaq that is discriminatory to Muslim women, then it would bring a new divorce law that would be fair and equal to both men and women in the community.

As Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi argued against triple talaq and stressed the need to strike it down, the five judges constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar asked him if this is done, then what will happen to Muslim men who went to end their marriage.

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“If we accept that giving unfettered rights to a husband is bad and we strike down triple talaq, then where will Muslim men go for divorce,” asked Justice Uday Umesh Lalit who, along with the CJI, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer are on the constitution bench.

Without losing a moment, Rohatgi told the bench that if they strike down the all three – triple talaq, Nikah Halala and polygamy, then the government will bring a new law.

At this, Chief Justice Khehar said that the top court was not just the “guardian to the Constitution but also that of the Minorities Act.”

At the outset of the hearing, the Attorney General urged the court to examine not just the validity of the triple talaq vis-a-vis the Constitution but also that of the Nikah Halal and polygamy.

Citing the limited time that is available, the bench said that as of now it would focus on the validity of triple talaq, leaving other two issues for the future.

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Appearing for the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, senior counsel Kapil Sibal told the bench that the “issue is not talaq, the issue is patriarchy” or a state of society which is inherently discriminatory of this or that religion.

Describing the issue as “highly complex” which can’t be resolved easily, he referred to Hindu Code under which customs are still protected, noting that even under 2006 Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005, a father can bequeath his entire property to his son without giving anything to his daughter.

Noting that the Constitutions protects personal laws and all patriarchal societies are discriminatory, Sibal said that all laws that applies to Hindus, Muslims, and other religions must be tested on the grounds of discrimination.

Representing the government, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that Islamic practices as practised in India were not “pure Islam” but an “anglicised” form of the religion. (IANS)

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Another Deadline Missed, No Draft Scheme on the Cauvery Dispute Till Now

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme.

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The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.
Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia commons

The Centre yet again failed to submit a draft Scheme on the Cauvery river water dispute before the Supreme Court on the ground that the Prime Minister and other ministers were campaigning in Karnataka, which Tamil Nadu flayed as “brazen partisanship”.

Seeking 10 more days to finalize the scheme, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud: “A draft scheme has been placed before the Cabinet. Because of Karnataka elections, the Prime Minister and all other Ministers are in Karnataka. Before that the Prime Minister was abroad (in China).”

It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Parliament of India, wikimedia commons

The Centre’s submission was countered strongly by senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, who said: “Sorry to say, the Central government is politicizing the issue. They are worried about their electoral fate in Karnataka. Election in Karnataka is on May 12 and somehow they don’t want to do it till then. We have enough of it. It is brazen partisanship of the Union of India. It is the end of co-operative federalism.”

The apex court in its February 16 judgement had directed the Centre to frame a Scheme within six months in accordance with the recommendation by the Cauvery River Water Tribunal for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and Cauvery Regulatory Authority (CRA), which Karnataka opposes strongly.

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme. Tamil Nadu filed a contempt petition against the Centre for failure to act within the deadline.

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During Thursday’s hearing, the court directed the Karnataka government to respond on how much of the four TMC of water it can release by month end. It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

In the course of the hearing, the court asked Karnataka to release 4 TMC of water by Monday.

The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.

The court directed the next hearing of the matter on Tuesday. (IANS)