Union Cabinet approves Ordinance, Instant triple talaq to be a crime now

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.

New Delhi:

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved an ordinance making triple talaq a punishable offence on Wednesday. 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.

Under the Ordinance, the crime will be taken into cognizance only when the woman herself or a blood relative filed a complaint. A compromise can be reached only after the wife discusses it with a magistrate. The magistrate can grant bail, but only after hearing the wife.

Addressing the media after the Cabinet meet, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was a “compelling necessity, an overpowering urgency” to approve the Ordinance. “I have said this before, the issue of triple talaq has nothing to do with faith, mode of worship or religion. It is a pure issue of gender justice, gender dignity and gender equality,” he added.

On the last day of the monsoon session, Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu had deferred the Bill till the Winter Session, citing the lack of “consensus” in the House. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha last December.

The triple talaq bill aims to ‘set aside’ the centuries-old practice of instant divorce or talaq-e-biddat by men. It provides for three years imprisonment and a fine for divorcing a woman by uttering “talaq” three times in quick succession. In August, the Cabinet approved inclusion of a provision to allow the magistrate to grant bail to men accused of giving instant triple talaq to their wives.

The amendments came after the Supreme Court on August 22 last year struck down the practice of triple talaq, calling it unconstitutional. In a landmark 3-2 verdict, the top court found the practice un-Islamic and “arbitrary”, and disagreed that triple talaq was an integral part of religious practice.

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