Triple talaq bill to be discussed in Lok Sabha today

New Delhi: A discussion on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2018, or the Triple Talaq Bill, is expected to take place in Lok Sabha today during the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament.

The fresh bill, which prohibits divorce of Muslim couples by pronouncing ‘talaq’ (divorce) three times by their husbands, was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday to replace an ordinance issued in September. Under this proposed law, Muslim men giving instant triple talaq will attract imprisonment of three years.

According to the Lok Sabha’s revised business list, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will introduce the bill in the lower house today. “Ravi Shankar Prasad to move that the Bill to protect the rights of married Muslim women and to prohibit divorce by pronouncing talaq by their husbands and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, be taken into consideration,” the document read.

The ordinance was passed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union Cabinet as this bill could not be tabled on the last day of the Monsoon session held in September, owing to a lack of consensus among political quarters.

The central government gave nod to a number of crucial amendments to the Ordinance, including a provision for bail to an accused before the commencement of trial. The other amendment cleared by the Centre includes allowing only a woman or her close kin to file a police case against her spouse for instant triple talaq.

As per the Ordinance, the victim is also allowed to drop the case if her spouse comes around later and they arrive at a compromise. It also mandates that the magistrate can decide on releasing the husband on bail only after hearing the wife’s stance.

In accordance with the Ordinance, a Muslim woman against whom talaq has been declared is entitled to get subsistence allowance from her spouse for herself and for her dependent children. The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate hearing the case.

The current Ordinance also allows victims to seek custody of her minor children; however, the manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate. It also makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.

The issue of triple talaq was taken up in the Parliament after in August last year, a five-judge bench of the apex 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 Supreme Court found the practice un-Islamic and “arbitrary”, and disagreed that triple talaq was an integral part of religious practice.