Dhananjay Mahapatra|

NEW DELHI: The triple talaqcase reached its pre-final stage in the Supreme Court on Tuesday with the court saying questions on the issue would be framed on Thursday and final arguments will begin on May 11 even as it made plain that it was not considering the issue of a uniform civil code.

Adjudication of the legality of triple talaq mode of divorce among Muslims will be considered by a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justices N V Ramana and D Y Chandrachud during the court’s summer vacation.

The court restricted the legal debate to three advocates each from the pro- and anti-triple talaq sides.

The SC‘s observation that it was not debating a uniform civil code is significant as conservative Muslim groups have argued that the triple talaq case is linked to UCCand is an assault on the personal law of minorities.

SC asks triple talaq parties to pick lawyers

The court said it would examine the issue in the context of constitutional rights.

The court said the first two days would be devoted to understanding the spread of the issue, and the final arguments thereafter should not exceed seven days. It asked the pro and anti-triple talaq groups to sit together and choose which three advocates would argue. It assured Farah Faiz, a strong voice from among women groups, that someone from their side too would get a chance to present their side of the story.

The bench then issued an important clarification, “We will not debate uniform civil code. This case pertains to determination of the legality of triple talaq. We will focus only on that issue and determine whether it is linked to constitutional rights.”

Shayara Bano, who was divorced through triple talaq, was the first to petition the SC challenging its validity. She was soon joined by many other divorced women as well as women’s groups. All India Muslim Personal Law Board had filed an elaborate affidavit justifying the practice, terming it part of the right to practise religion, guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution.

However, the Centre, in its affidavit, had sought the abolition of triple talaq and polygamy, terming them unconstitutional customs that hurt gender equality and women’s dignity. It had also argued that the practice is not valid in many Islamic countries. “The fact that Muslim countries where Islam is the state religion have undergone extensive reform goes to show that the practices in question cannot be regarded as integral to the practice of Islam,” it had said.