The Supreme Court on Thursday began hearing petitions challenging the validity of triple talaq, a contentious issue which has been the cause of unending dialectical exchange between the Muslim orthodoxy and groups fighting gender discrimination.

The Supreme Court bench comprising of five judges from different faiths, Chief Justice JS Khehar (Sikh), Kurian Joseph (Christian), RF Nariman (Parsi), UU Lalit (Hindu) and Abdul Nazeer (Muslim) heard petitions challenging the edict with a call for uniform civil code.

“We are going to decide the validity of triple talaq,” said Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, heading a Constitution bench, asking the parties concerned to focus on whether triple talaq was fundamental to Islam. 

The petition was filed by Muslim women challenging the practice of triple talaq within the community; some complained of being divorced through Facebook and WhatsApp.

Not only triple talaq, the ‘Quest for Equality vs Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind’ challenged the practice of ‘nikah halala’ where a divorced Muslim woman has to remarry and consummate the second marriage in order to return to her first husband.

The Chief Justice said that petitioners and respondents would address the court on whether triple talaq was an enforceable fundamental right. The bench sought suggestions on the broad parameters of the directions the court may issue while deciding the validity of triple talaq.

The court said both sides would get two days each to argue their case. Thereafter, both sides would get a day each to submit rejoinders. 

The triple talaq issue has attracted condemnation for how married Muslim women are abandoned while the husband arbitrarily decides to leave his partner. The BMMA has alleged that women have been divorced through WhatsApp messages and Facebook Messenger.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has told the Supreme Court that the issue of triple talaq does not fall under the reach of judiciary. It has decried the Constitution as invalid under the law of Holy Quran.

(With inputs from IANS)