The instant triple talaq Bill is a remedy that can worsen the disease

By its own admission, the government did not consult anyone, not even women’s organisations, in the process of drafting the bill. No Muslim women MP spoke during the “debate” in the Lok Sabha.

Written by Salman Anees Soz | Updated: January 2, 2018 6:56 am
Triple talaq, Triple talaq bill, Muslim, Muslim divorce law, Lok Sabha The government last week introduced the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, in the Lok Sabha (AP Photo/File)

In September 2015, I tweeted the following: “Dear All India Muslim Personal Law Board: The instant triple talaq is a horrible interpretation that sets our community back. I reject it.” I wanted the AIMPLB to raise awareness about the undesirability of instant triple talaq. Instead, they fought to have the Supreme Court uphold it. A few months ago, the Court held the instant triple talaq unconstitutional. This was, certainly, a step forward for women’s empowerment. But even then I didn’t imagine that the apex court’s progressive judgment would become a pretext for the Narendra Modi-led government to put forward a Bill that would not only do little to advance the interests of Muslim women, but could end up harming the interests of both Muslim women and men.

Last week, the government introduced the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, in the Lok Sabha. There was no real discussion and the government’s brute majority in the Lower House ensured that the Bill took only a few hours for it to be passed. All proposed amendments were rejected. Shouldn’t a Bill of this nature have required a discussion? After all, aren’t we in favour of empowering Muslim women? Should we not be happy that Muslim women won’t now have the spectre of a regressive divorce procedure hanging over their heads? So why am I now writing this piece opposing the Bill, after first coming out strongly against instant triple talaq? Let me explain.

In reading its contents, it becomes clear that the Bill was prepared without proper due diligence or regard for its consequences. The justification supplied in the “statement of objects and reasons”, arguing that the Supreme Court judgment “has not worked as any deterrent in bringing down the number of divorces by this practice among certain Muslims,” is frankly, ludicrous. The Bill goes on to add that, therefore, “there is a need for State action to give effect to the order of the Supreme Court and to redress the grievances of victims of illegal divorce.” But the government has simply not been able to provide any evidence in support of its assertion that the Supreme Court’s order has had no impact. In a country where we don’t even have basic jobs data, are we supposed to believe that the government has a divorce database so efficient that the triple talaq impact can be analysed within a few months of the judgment?

The Bill proposes that in light of the judgment, the pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq) will be “void and illegal”, meaning it would have no legal effect. So whether a Muslim man utters the word ‘talaq’ three times or a million times, it will have no legal effect and the marriage remains intact. Certainly, the woman in question will be deeply disturbed. But she retains all her legal rights and remedies.

The Bill further proposes to make the utterance of talaq, talaq, talaq a criminal offence, punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine that remains undetermined. This is important. For saying something that has no legal effect, the government proposes to send the offending man to jail. Worse, the offense will be cognizable and non-bailable. That means anyone can accuse a Muslim man of violating this law (not just the wife) and the police has to take cognizance, make an arrest and hold the man without bail. Any man with half a brain would realise that the proposed law would land him in jail for saying something that has no practical impact as far as his marriage is concerned.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just separate from his wife if he didn’t want to go through the normal divorce process? How are the woman’s interests preserved in such a scenario?

In an environment in which Muslim men are being killed on the mere allegation of possessing beef (Mohammed Akhlaq), smuggling cattle (Pehlu), or loving a Hindu woman (Afrazul), how difficult is it to imagine that this proposed law could be subverted to incarcerate Muslim men on a mass scale? Lives of countless mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters could become collateral damage.

The share of Muslim men in jail is already disproportionate to their share in the general Indian population. In some large states such as Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Rajasthan, this share is glaringly disproportionate. The proposed bill could make these ratios worse and have adverse consequences for Muslim society.

This situation is becoming increasingly similar to the situation of African American men in the US — they constitute 13 per cent of the US population, but 34 per cemt of all those incarcerated are black men. In American society, the African American male is seen as someone to be feared. He is the “other”. This prejudice has had serious adverse consequences for African American families and it is a key reason for ongoing protests against a culture of racism that continues to roil American society.

By its own admission, the government did not consult anyone, not even women’s organisations, in the process of drafting the bill. No Muslim women MP spoke during the “debate” in the Lok Sabha.

This is not a good way to draft laws that can have an impact on millions of families. This Bill needs a comprehensive review and a careful assessment its consequences for Muslim men and women. If we put our heads together in good faith, I am certain we can find a way to stop the practice of instant triple talaq, protect women’s rights and mitigate risks of abuse from this piece of legislation.

Salman Soz is a member of the Congress party. He tweets @salmansoz; atworksalman@gmail.com

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  1. Srinivas S
    Jan 3, 2018 at 5:04 pm
    All valid points except that there is no correlation between enforcement of Triple Talaq Law and prison statistics. Prison demographics should not be a factor in drafting any law. Hypothetically speaking, just because the proportion of a particular community is relatively higher in prisons, you cannot stop drafting and implementing laws if they are deemed necessary for that community.
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    1. Babu Indian
      Jan 3, 2018 at 1:42 pm
      If/when india were a muslim majority country will it remain secular and what will happen to remaining Hindus ? Going by the happennings of recent history and nature of islam , it is ovbious that it will become an islamic state and not a secular state . For the remaining Hindus , many worse outcomes may happen , best one can say is that all will be converted to Islam and allowed to stay ( that is the best one can hope from muslims though worse may happen) . So this shows were one stands and why one opposes islam and why muslims who demand secularism and rights in india are hypocrits .
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      1. Harish Anand
        Jan 3, 2018 at 9:47 am
        This shows the true colour of congress leader. Pls try to understand that loope holes can be filled, weak point can be taken care , imporvement can e brought in but making law is first step to show citizen and world as what is allowed in this country and what not and what is mind of nation. Using all kinds of excuses is a shameful act in which the writer try to justify his mind. Rather than writing this non sense , he could have written how loop holes can be fixed and how women interest can be secured. Simply saying this is not perfect shows intellectual insolvency and corrupt mind of the person and party
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        1. Kshitij Aggarwal
          Jan 3, 2018 at 11:07 am
          No brother. Loop holes are very difficult to fill once a law has been passed. It is common practice that once Parliament passes a law, the society must give it some time to be implemented. It is reviewed only after some time when the bad consequences start appearing. I suggest following fixes in the bill- 1. The bill can be modified to give the opportunity to Muslim men who commit talaq-e-biddat to go through the process of reconciliation and of talaq in three months. 2. Thebill can even provide for a fine on triple talaq which can be raised or made criminal offence in case of repeated commissions. 3. A corpus of funds should be allocated to provide for subsistence allowance. 4. There should be effective consultations with the Muslim community to address all fears. 5. The bill should have made mandatory incorporation of triple divorce’s prohibition in the nikahnama (prenuptial contract) itself. Muslim marriage being a civil contract, husband will be bound by it.
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          1. Harish Anand
            Jan 3, 2018 at 2:55 pm
            Nice comments. This is what I am trying to bring out. See it is just on the horizon and you have suggested so many good points. This happens when something come in light and open to debate. when some judgments come, there will be some imperfections and these pointed out and law will be modified but until you start you will never know what works and what not
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          2. Leanne Jones
            Jan 3, 2018 at 2:40 pm
            IT IS SHOCKING WHY DOES IT TAKE 1000s OF YEARS TO SOLVE THIS ISSUE. THE SAME WITH POLYGAMY. BOTH NEED TO BE ADDRESSED
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          3. Surya Prakash Sharma
            Jan 3, 2018 at 8:35 am
            HAD Muslims been QUICK LEARNERS this situation would not have arisen BUT history shriekes that they are allergic to learning anything outside their BOOK nowhere on this planet are the muslims living peaceful lives WHAT IS THE CAUSE THEY HAVE TO SEARCH FOR THEIR OWN BENEFIT NO OUTSIDE HELP CAN DO THE TRICK
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            1. Dhaval Brahmbhatt
              Jan 3, 2018 at 3:48 am
              There are many things at play here - the first thing is - the Muslim board should have solved the Triple Talaq as well as the polygamy issue a long time ago. If you don't, the government will. Period. Now, what the government proposes may not be the best solution, but it is the Muslim community that has brought this upon themselves. So look inward and not outward for any blame game. Secondly, on the issue of incarceration - the religion of peace obviously has some issues. If you can figure out why is it that the Muslim community is the most illiterate community in India - maybe you will also have your answer to why is it that they are incarcerated the most. Certainly, that is the case here in the US with the African American population. Again, that is something that Muslims have to figure out for themselves - the government has not discriminated between two communities when it comes to education and other basic needs.
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              1. Kshitij Aggarwal
                Jan 3, 2018 at 11:12 am
                Muslims have high proportion of illiterate because of many factors- 1. Deurbanisation during British period when handicrafts and other professions were ruined. Muslims faced the toughest situation as they lost livelihood as well as patronage of Muslim rulers. 2. Failure of Muslim religious leaders to reform and educate the Muslim children in modern systems of education. 3. A struggle for existence due to fears of majoritarianism leading to submissive at ude of general Muslim masses. 4. Political misuse
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                1. Leanne Jones
                  Jan 3, 2018 at 2:07 pm
                  2. To become real author of this literature implies killing the present people who are practicing these Faiths. In addition, Canadians recognize that this is morally wrong people practicing these Faiths will be angered at Canadians taking these Scriptures and claiming to be their Writings. Nevertheless, Canadians feel they are Superior to other races based one Self-Created Rating Scale based on the white skin color, thereby justifying the takeover of the authorship as it suits their white skin color, In addition, we see GENOCIDE OF BROWN BLACK SKINNED PEOPLE. One can conclude that this Genocide is a way to be a solo author of the Scriptures hold a position of esteem of #1. Whereas, with this method WE ARE TEACHING THE YOUNGER GENERATION INCORRECT HABITS! GENOCIDE NOTED TO BE INTENSIFIED SINCE 3 YEARS? HIJACKING KILLING OF INDIANS AS WELL AS OTHER BLACK BROWN SKINNED PEOPLE……all over the place in the Western Asian
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                  1. Leanne Jones
                    Jan 3, 2018 at 2:15 pm
                    4. then you follow the steps given below – • You should NOT TRAVEL in THEIR VEHICLE …Travel independently to GO meet people. • After meeting WITH PEOPLE in the Mall, GO ABOUT YOUR OWN WAYS SEPARATELY as well as without informing the people of where you are going. • NEVER TAG with PEOPLE. It means DO NOT GO with people from Mall to a Function or to another Store or to someone’s home etc, etc, even if it is A MUST. Going from place to place, will eventually take you to the place of Extermination When Travelling take busy roads. DRIVING: BASED ON OBSERVATIONS STATEMENTS FROM PEOPLE, it is concluded: (i) Do Not Follow vehicles of friends relatives. It is noted you may get taken outside the major city limits where unwanted scenarios may have been set up organized.
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                  2. Leanne Jones
                    Jan 3, 2018 at 1:21 pm
                    The Muslim community is NOT illiterate completely because one sees highly well educated people. In general illiteracy is not a reflection of being a Muslim. We also see illiteracy amongst Dalits ST SC people. The common denominator being poverty and reduced privileges and opportunities as well as decline in integration. These groups encounter mega problems on several fronts in their day to day life. The way the society operates is push people behind based on casteism. But in the west, the African American were brought in as slaves so there is a mindset of undermining them also their color of skin the WHITE Supremacy factor. I have heard numerous times "Oh! they don't have a personality, they look ugly so they have no mental intellect". In other words the melanin of the skin is engaged in mental functions. This is a Euro American concoction to make themselves feel elated. Thus all kinds of pseudo theories are dished out to justify keeping them behind. Currently there is killing
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                    1. Leanne Jones
                      Jan 3, 2018 at 2:03 pm
                      1NOW STREET DRUGS ARE BEING FLOODED IN INDIA BASED ON OBSERVATION WE ARE WAITING FOR EXTERMINATION THE IMPACT OF CANADA’S TAKE OVER OF INDIA PATENTING THE ANCIENT SCRIPTURES (HINDUISM, SIKHISM, BUDDHISM, YOGA, MEDIDATION, VEDAS, UPANISHADS, MYTHOLOGY, ETC, ETC) OF INDIA, IS ENVY, CHAOS IN INDIA, GENOCIDE Disappearance of brown black skinned people SEVERAL 1000s, since 3 years. People, in general, take a book to read for academic purposes or leisure, comprehend apply from the knowledge of the book in their life or leave it. It is uncommon for people to make claims on authorship of books written by another person, as it is illegal for such activity disrespect of the author as well. In addition, it sets the younger generation to do the same. However, Canadians have patented the above subject matter books. Patent means to be the author of the books but in this case wishes to be #1. To be #1 when there is existing authorship IMPLIES a fake authorship.
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                      1. Leanne Jones
                        Jan 3, 2018 at 2:12 pm
                        3. Countries PROCESS BEGINS WITH AN INVITATION-by someone from your circle of friends, relatives colleagues to go out to place to eat OR to shop OR visit a friend OR go for a sleep over OR a Party OR a movie, etc, etc. You will be taken to 1or 2 places then you will be walked / driven to some place, where you will be left, while your friend / relative will sneak out. There is no way, you will be allowed to come out finally you will NOT BE SEEN AGAIN. ALSO, BEWARE OF PEOPLE (who are collaborators) WHO WILL MISLEAD YOU THAT THERE IS NO PROBLEM BE RELAXED! TIPS FOR SAFETY- WHEN MEETING PEOPLE GOING OUT When you are invited by friends relatives to go out – it is best to not agree until you have more information, such as: Where are we going? What are we going to do? What time? YOU must find out the TIME PLACE of your OUTING. Your OUTING must be restricted to a MALL or SUPERSTORE or a POPULAR RESTAURANT. NEVER AGREE TO ANY OTHER PLACE
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                        1. Leanne Jones
                          Jan 3, 2018 at 2:19 pm
                          I5. t is best for you to PLAN YOUR OWN ROUTES for travelling (ii) BE ATTENTIVE WHEN DRIVING – Based on observations statements reported, vehicles make intentional changes in the path of THEIR driving towards your vehicle such that there are collisions, especially if you are brown black skinned individual.. WALKING ON THE STREETS: It is OBSERVED REPORTED, there are several Vehicles moving around the streets that are monitoring people on the streets. The minute you are spotted as one of the wanted kinds (brown OR black skinned), the Vehicle parks away from the mainstream crowd the driver then follows behind the pedestrian will seize the opportunity to grab drag/lead the individual to his /her vehicle. WHEN CROSSING THE STREETS: It is reported observed that vehicles come out of nowhere move in the direction of the pedestrian crossing the street to strike them down on the street so that the pedestrian is severely injured.
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                          1. Leanne Jones
                            Jan 3, 2018 at 2:22 pm
                            6. Therefore, it is NOT ONLY important to watch Right, Left, Front Front 0f you at the intersection but also at the back of where you are standing when crossing, all the time. STRANGERS: It has been observed that Strangers are offering both, FREE PAID rides to people, invite people for Coffee or meal, collect phone numbers addresses of people most of them are hijackers / kidnappers. These people are very friendly people, so don’t get deceived. SHOPPING: It is observed reported that Shopping Carts loaded with groceries get snatched from the hands of people coming out of the Grocery Stores and the person who snatches the cart, then walks faster may say loudly, “Honey, our car is at the back, common this way follow me”. This method is just to bring you away from the crowd so that they are able to grab you take you away in his / her car. So, YELL FOR HELP BUT DO NOT COME CLOSE TO THE PERSON WHO HAS YOUR CART. IF THERE IS NO HELP AVAILABLE, IT IS BEST, TO LET GO
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                            1. Leanne Jones
                              Jan 3, 2018 at 2:29 pm
                              7.YOUR CART SA UARD YOURSELF. WORSHIP PLACES: DO NOT TAKE RIDE TO GO OR RETURN BACK FROM WORSHIP PLACES. IF YOU OFFER TO VOLUNTEER FOR ANY WORK AT THE END OF THE WORSHIP SERVICE OR OTHERWISE, THEN OFFER YOUR SEREVICE AS LONG AS THERE ARE LOTS OF PEOPLE FROM THE COMMUNITY PRESENT. YOU MUST LEAVE AS SOON AS PEOPLE BEGIN TO LEAVE THE WORSHIP PLACE. There is intense hijacking disappearance in progress from rides that are offered to people FROM THESE PLACES. TAXI SERVICE: It is noted UNREGISTERED VEHICLES arrive at places where there are large social gatherings, functions, bingos, etc, etc. These Vehicles have been reported to be the vehicles of hijackers. TRAVEL SAFE: When Returning Home or Going To Any Place – ADHERE TO SAFE RULES AS GIVEN ABOVE. THERE COULD BE VARIATIONS IN SITUATIONS / CIRCUMSTANCES, FOLLOW your JOURney
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