Triple talaq Current Affairs
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.
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.
The Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriages) Bill 2017 dclaring instant triple talaq illegal and criminalises it with up to three years in jail for the husband. The bill will now will be sent to the Rajya Sabha for passage before it is forwarded to the President for assent to come into force as law.
Key Features of Bill
The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form (text message, email etc) to be void and illegal i.e. not enforceable in law. It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by Muslim husband resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce to his wife.
It refers Talaq-e-biddat to practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by Muslim husband to his wife results in instant and irrevocable divorce.
Offence and penalty: It makes declaration of talaq a cognizable and non-bailable offence i.e. offence for which police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant. Moreover, if Muslim husband declaring triple talaq can be imprisoned for up to 3 years along with a fine.
Allowance: It entitles Muslim woman against whom triple talaq has been declared to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children. First Class Magistrate will decide this allowance amount.
Custody of minor children: Muslim woman against whom triple talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. First Class Magistrate will make determination of custody of her minor children.
The Constitutional bench of Supreme Court in 3:2 majority judgment (verdict) given in August 2017 had declared Islamic practice of instant divorce through triple talaq as unconstitutional, illegal and void and not protected by Article 25 (freedom of religion) of the Constitution. The three majority judges had held that triple talaq is manifestly arbitrary and violative of the constitution and fundamental right under Article 14 (equality before law) so it must be struck down.
It was alleged that practise of triple talaq adversely impact rights of women to a life of dignity and is against constitutional principles such as gender equality, secularism, international laws etc. It also undermines gender equality is a sacred principle of our constitution and modern society. Even 21 Islamic theocratic countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan have abolished it.