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Allahabad High Court (File Photo: IANS)
Lucknow, May 9 (IANS) The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday ruled that triple talaq was a violation of the Indian Constitution and that the rights of women cannot be violated in the name of personal law.
The verdict drew a sharp reaction from Muslim religious leaders who said the matter was part of religious law and courts could not intervene in it.
The court's ruling came as it heard a case filed by a Muslim woman from Varanasi, with regard to harassment for dowry followed by a triple talaq by her husband Aqeel Jameel.
A single judge bench of Justice S.P. Kesarwani also refused to quash the dowry case as demanded by Jameel, who contended that he has divorced his wife and also procured a 'fatwa' in this regard by the Darul Ifta Jama Masjid in Agra.
The court also ruled that the summon ordered to the husband by the Varanasi Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate was valid on the grounds, that prima facie the case was a criminal one as any fatwa did not enjoy the backing of law or have a legal sanctity.
No personal law is above the Constitution and triple talaq was a violation of the fundamental rights given to citizens under the Constitution's Articles 14, 15 and 21, the court said. The court also said that any fatwa that is against law cannot be accepted.
Reacting to the judgment, senior Muslim scholar Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali told IANS that the matter was within the shariat rules and laws of Islam and nobody had the right to interpret it in their own way.
"The matter is of personal belief and if the courts feel that this breaches the constitution it should do way with the provisions enshrined in the constitution which allows us to follow personal law in such matters," he added.
Accusing "institutions" of "targeting the Muslim community by raking up such non-issues", he instead called on the court to rather focus on clearing the piling up cases of divorce in the courts across the country.
They should try and resolve divorce cases by holding day to day hearings rather than pointing fingers and interfering in our matters, he said.
Wali Farooqui, another senior voice in the Muslim community, said that the matter of triple talaaq was "khalis mazhabi masla (a purely religious matter" which needed no meddling by anyone.
Charging the people raking up the matter with wanting to intimidate the minority community, he also urged the courts to at least tell what should be the process if the husband and wife want to separate.
Anuraag Awasthi, a legal expert, however said that the High Court was within its rights to pass the ruling. "It is strange that while the Muslims do not follow shariat in criminal matters, they take recourse to it in civil matters," he said.