The Supreme Court decided to bring together five judges of different faiths to make up the Constitution bench that will hear the final arguments on the constitutional validity of triple talaq.
This essentially means, the judges will examine whether triple talaq is fundamental to religion.
So who are these judges? The Constitution Bench is led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, and comprises of Justices Kurian Joseph, Rohinton F. Nariman, Uday Umesh Lalit and S. Abdul Nazeer are hearing the case. So, there's a Sikh, a Christian, a Parsi, a Hindu and a Muslim judge in the panel.
Sounds good, right?
Well, there's something really, really odd about this panel of judges deciding if triple talaq violates the fundamental rights of Muslim women.
In fact, many on Twitter have already spotted the problem.
Joke of the day is the triple talaq bench of SC has 5 judges of 5 different faiths but no women .. #faceplam— Republic of XSecular (@ExSecular) May 11, 2017
— David S (@dsal821179) May 11, 2017
Yes, that's right. There is no woman on a panel that will decide the fate of thousands of women.
Right now, the SC has only one woman judge--Justice R. Bhanumathi. She is the only woman judge in the Supreme Court of the total 28 judges. The three-judge bench that upheld the death penalty awarded to the four convicts of the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case included Justice Bhanumathi.
Justice R Bhanumathi was appointed on August 13, 2014.
An Indian Express report notes that the Supreme Court of India has seen only six women judges of the total 229 judges appointed on its benches since its inception in 1950. The first woman judge was Justice Fathima Beevi.
In February, eight months after the last judicial appointments were made to the Supreme Court, five new judges were sworn in. However, the latest appointments to the top court did not see any woman judge getting sworn.
The court will also hear petitions challenging the validity of polygamy and 'nikah halala' – a practice under which a divorced Muslim woman has to remarry, consummate the second marriage to go back to her first husband.
Several Muslim women activists have petitioned in the past to ban triple talaq — a "medieval" practice that allows men to divorce their wives simply by stating the word 'talaq' thrice. In 2016, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) told Reuters that "Muslim women in India have suffered because of triple talaq where arbitrary divorces declared over postcards or telegrams have been sustained."
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