On Friday, the Union Cabinet cleared a bill that criminalizes the Islamic practice of instant talaq on the first day of the winter session of Parliament. The Modi said cleared in November that they are ready with a bill that would take legal actions to prosecute Muslim men calling off marriages by saying ‘talaq’ three times, which was outlawed by the Supreme Court.
In instant ‘talaq’, any Muslim man can divorce their wives by saying the word ‘talaq’ three times in one go, even through email, WhatsApp messages or letters. The projected bill gives a three-year jail sentence as well as fine and says that the offense will be unmistakable and non-bailable. The proposed law named as ‘Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, also gives a “victim” of Talaq-e-Biddat a right to ask maintenance from her husband before a magistrate’s court. The bill also states that the woman will also be permitted to her children’s care.
The apex court had struck down the custom in August as “arbitrary” and “unconstitutional” in a verdict, which was welcomed as a milestone moment for gender justice in India. “Before the judgment this year, there were 177 reported cases of Talaq-e-biddat. Since then, there have been 67. These are only reported cases, the actual figure could be much higher,” explained a law ministry official the theory behind the bill. The draft law was prepared by an inter-ministerial group led by home minister Rajnath Singh, which includes members like external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, finance minister Arun Jaitley, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and his junior in the ministry P P Chaudhary.