A FRESH Bill to make the practice of instant triple talaq a penal offence was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday to replace an ordinance issued in September.
According to the Bill, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, will replace an earlier Bill passed in the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha. With the Bill facing opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the government had cleared some amendments, including introduction of a provision of bail. But as the Bill continued to face resistance in the Rajya Sabha, the government issued an ordinance in September, incorporating the amendments.
An ordinance has a life of six months. But it has to be replaced by a Bill passed by both Houses within 42 days of the Parliament Session which follows. The government can re-promulgate the ordinance if the Bill is not passed.
Introducing the Bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said despite the Supreme Court striking down the practice of talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq) as unconstitutional, men were divorcing their wives on flimsy grounds and even via WhatsApp. The Bill would protect “the rights of married Muslim women”, he said.
Opposing the introduction of the Bill, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, “the Bill conflates civil law with criminal law by criminalising a wrong form of divorce and by criminalising an act which is already legally null and void.” He said the Bill also attempts to create a “class-specific legislation on the grounds of religion”, and has “no procedural safeguards to prevent its misuse”.
Responding to Tharoor, Prasad said the Bill was brought after due deliberations. While the proposed law makes triple talaq a “non-bailable” offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail. A provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”. The magistrate has to ensure that bail is granted only after the husband agrees to grant compensation to the wife as provided in the Bill.