Bills and Acts Current Affairs

Union Cabinet approves ordinance to make instant triple talaq a penal offence

The Union Cabinet has cleared ordinance to make practice of instant triple talaq penal offence. It was signed by President Ram Nath Kovind later as per Article 123 of the Constitution. Compelling reason cited by Government for promulgation of this ordinance was that practice of triple talaq continues unabated even after annulled by Supreme Court due to absence of legal framework.

Core components of ordinance

The ordinance makes instant triple talaq illegal and void. It prescribes punishment with jail term for three years to husbands practicing triple talaq. It also includes certain safeguards such as the addition of a provision of bail for the accused before trial, to do away with fears of misuse of the law.

The offence of triple talaq will only be cognizable when victim wife or her relatives by blood or marriage file FIR. It is compoundable offence, meaning that there can be compromise but only on insistence of wife and t magistrate will have to determine terms and conditions.

The offender can be granted bail by magistrate but only after hearing victim wife as it is private dispute between husband and wife and wife must be heard when bail is granted.  Additionally, victim wife will get custody of minor children. They will be entitled to receive maintenance from husband for herself and children, as decided by magistrate.

Background

In landmark 3-2 verdict in August 2017, five-judge Constitution Bench of Supreme Court had declared centuries-old practice of instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat unconstitutional. Triple talaq is practice in which Muslim men divorce their wives unilaterally by uttering talaq three times in quick succession. Three of five judges of this bench had called this practice un-Islamic and arbitrary. They also disagreed with view that triple talaq was an integral part of religious practice. In pursuance of SC verdict, Government had managed to get Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 passed in Lok Sabha in December 2017 but it got stuck in Rajya Sabha as it was unable to build consensus among political parties where it does not have majority.Government’s position on Triple Talaq always had been that it has nothing to do with faith or mode of worship or religion, but it is pure issue of gender justice, gender dignity and gender equality.

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Health Ministry notifies HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017

Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued notification for bringing Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Prevention and Control) Act, 2017 in force from 10th September, 2018.

The Act safeguards rights of people living with HIV and affected by HIV. It also addresses HIV-related discrimination, strengthen existing programme by bringing in legal accountability and establish formal mechanisms for inquiring into complaints and redressing grievances.

Key Provisions of the Act

The Act seeks to prevent and control spread of HIV and AIDS, prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS. It lists various grounds on which discrimination against HIV positive persons and those living with them is prohibited.

These discrimination grounds include denial, termination, discontinuation or unfair treatment with regard to (i) employment (ii) educational establishments (iii) health care services, (iv) standing for public or private office, (v) residing or renting property and (vi) provision of insurance.

It also prohibits requirement for HIV testing as pre-requisite for obtaining employment or accessing health care or education. It mentions that every HIV infected or affected person below age of 18 years has right to reside in shared household and enjoy facilities of household.

It also prohibits any individual from publishing information or advocating feelings of hatred against HIV positive persons and those living with them. It gives right to every person in care and custody of the state to HIV prevention, testing, treatment and counseling services.

It mentions that person between 12 to 18 years of age having sufficient maturity in understanding and managing affairs of his HIV or AIDS affected family will be competent to act as guardian of another sibling below 18 years of age. This will be applicable in matters relating to admission to educational establishments, operating bank accounts, managing property, care and treatment, amongst others.

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