The Union government on Friday told the Supreme Court that 'triple talaq', 'nikah halal' and polygamy as practised by the Muslims in India were not "integral to the practices of Islam or essential religious practices." "The fact that Muslim countries where Islam is the state religion have undergone extensive reforms go to establish that the practise in question cannot be regarded as integral to the practices of Islam or essential religious practices," argued the government in an affidavit filed on Friday.
It said that the question is whether triple talaq and polygamy was compatible with contemporary constitutional morality and the principle of gender equality enshrined in the constitution. Saying that the right of women to human dignity, social esteem and self-worth are important facets of the right to life, the government said that the gender justice is important and any practice by which women are left socially and financially or emotionally vulnerable or subject to whims and caprice of men folk is against gender justice.
It said that the constitutional right should be given to all irrespective of religion and pointed out that India was a signatory to international covenants which guarantees the right to equality to women. Personal laws must be examined in light of gender justice and dignity of women and those inconsistent with fundamental rights are void. "The fundamental question for determination is whether in a secular democracy, religion can be reason to deny equal status and dignity, available to women under the constitution," the government said in its response affidavit.