The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance making instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a punishable offence carrying a jail term of up to three years. The step was taken after the government failed to pass the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, in the Rajya Sabha during the recent monsoon session. Recently, in his fifth Independence Day speech, PM Modi said he was striving to end instant triple talaq but underlined there were some people who do not want the practice to go away.“
In August last year, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a law that allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering “talaq” three times in quick succession. In a landmark 3-2 verdict, the apex court found the practice un-Islamic and “arbitrary”, and disagreed that triple talaq was an integral part of religious practice.
What are the provisions?
1. Triple talaq remains cognizable with a maximum of three years imprisonment and a fine.
2. Triple talaq will be recognised as a crime only when a woman or her blood relative files a complaint with the police.
3. A compromise can be achieved only when the woman is willing and says so to a magistrate. A magistrate can grant bail only after the wife’s consent.
4. The custody of children from the marriage will go to the woman.
5. The mother is entitled to maintenance determined by a magistrate.
6. The law doesn’t affect Jammu and Kashmir.
What is instant triple talaq?
Instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat is a practice that was challenged in the court. It is different from the practice of “talaq-ul-sunnat”, which is considered to be the ideal form of dissolution of marriage contract among Muslims.
Under the latter form, once the husband pronounces talaq, the wife has to observe a three-month iddat period covering three menstrual cycles during which the husband can arbitrate and re-conciliate with the wife. In case of cohabitation between the couple, during these three months, the talaq is revoked. However, when the period of iddat expires and the husband does not revoke the talaq either expressly or by consummation, the talaq is irrevocable and final.
In the practice of talaq-e-biddat, when a man pronounces talaq thrice in a sitting, or through phone, or writes in a talaqnama or a text message, the divorce is considered immediate and irrevocable, even if the man later wishes to re-conciliate.