The triple talaq bill was recently passed in the Lok Sabha and is to be passed by the Rajya Sabha.
What is the Bill on?
- The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha.
- But the 2017 Bill was listed for withdrawal, due to lack of consensus in the Rajya Sabha.
- So an Ordinance was passed in September 2018 for the interim period.
- The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 now replaces the ordinance.
- The 2018 Bill underwent a near debate less passage in the Lok Sabha.
- The government rejected the Opposition’s demand in the Rajya Sabha to send the Bill to a joint select committee for further scrutiny.
- So there is again a standoff in the Rajya Sabha for its passage.
What are the key changes in 2018 Bill?
- The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.
- Definition of talaq includes talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.
- Offence and penalty – The Bill makes a declaration of talaq a cognizable offence.
- It could attract up to 3 years imprisonment with a fine.
- [A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without a warrant.]
- 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
- Bail – The Bill provides that the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused.
- The bail may be granted only after hearing the woman.
- The Magistrate has to be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
- Compounding – The offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman.
- Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute.
- The terms and conditions of the compounding of the offence will be determined by the Magistrate.
- Allowance – The woman is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children.
- The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.
- Custody – The woman is entitled to seek custody of her minor children.
What are the concerns?
- Contrary to the intent of the legislation, it would weaken the position of Muslim women.
- The question over the need for law when the five-judge Supreme Court Bench had outlawed the practice remains unanswered.
- The Bill stipulates a three-year prison sentence and a fine. It is unclear why a civil contract should carry a criminal penalty.
- The original Bill stated that the offence would be non-bailable, which has been reduced to a bailable offence in the latest version.
- The woman is entitled to receive from her husband a subsistence allowance for her and her dependent children.
- Expecting a man, who is incarcerated for 3 years and with less chance to earn a livelihood, to pay allowance is illogical.