Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act (Triple Talaq)

Bill:

  • Bill has been passed by Lok Sabha.
  • The bill would replace the ordinance passed in the month of September.
  • The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form (text message, email etc) to be void and illegal i.e. not enforceable in law.
  • It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by Muslim husband resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce to his wife.
  • It refers Talaq-e-biddat to practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by Muslim husband to his wife results in instant and irrevocable divorce.
  • Offence and penalty: It makes declaration of talaq a cognizable and non-bailable offence i.e. offence for which police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant. Moreover, a Muslim husband declaring triple talaq can be imprisoned for up to 3 years along with a fine.
  • Declaration of Triple Talaq would be a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine. The bill states that the offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or any person related to her by blood or marriage.
  • Under the provisions of the bill, the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
  • The bill also states that the offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared). The bill empowers the Magistrate to determine terms and conditions of the compounding.
  • Allowance: It entitles Muslim woman against whom triple talaq has been declared to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children. First Class Magistrate will decide this allowance amount.
  • Custody of minor children: Muslim woman against whom triple talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. First Class Magistrate will make determination of custody of her minor children.

Why it was done?

  • In August 2017 landmark verdict, Supreme Court had banned practice of “triple talaq” in which Muslim men unilaterally divorce their wives by uttering talaq three times in quick succession, calling it “unconstitutional”.
  • As per Supreme Court pronouncement, the practice of “triple talaq” is un-Islamic and “arbitrary” and was not integral part of religious practice.
  • It also violated Article 14 (Equality before law) and Article 21 of Indian Constitution.
  • It was alleged that practise of triple talaq adversely impact rights of women to a life of dignity and is against constitutional principles such as gender equality, secularism, international laws etc.
  • It also undermines gender equality which is a sacred principle of our constitution and modern society.
  • Even 21 Islamic theocratic countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan have abolished it.

Concerns Raised:

  • Punish the husband only if the woman files a complaint.
  • Instant talaq should be an offence but not a cognisable one.
  • They fear that the provisions have the potential to adversely impact Muslim women who are victims of instant talaq and result in greater harassment.
  • The purpose of this bill is gender justice, and criminalisation in itself cannot serve this objective. Marriage is a civil matter.
  • As per 494 of the Indian Penal Code bigamy is non-cognisable and bailable offence. Violation of law through triple talaq should invite penalty and punishment accordingly and proportionately.

Cognizable offence

A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without a warrant.

Compounding of offence

Compounding of offence refers to a procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute.