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Instant ‘triple talaq’ made criminal offence: Provision made for maintenance, child custody

Instant ‘triple talaq’ made criminal offence: Provision made for maintenance, child custody
Instant 'triple talaq' made criminal offence: Provision made for maintenance, child custody

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the move was necessitated as the the practise of ‘triple talaq’ continued despite being annulled by the Supreme Court (Representational Image, Courtesy:

In a historic step, the Union cabinet on Wednesday cleared an ordinance to make the practice of instant triple talaq a criminal offence, punishable with a three-year jail term.

The development was announced by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who cited “compelling necessity’ and “overpowering urgency” for the move as the practice continued unabated despite being annulled by the Supreme Court.

The cabinet’s approval for enacting the law via an executive order comes almost a year after the bill was introduced in Parliament.

In the current form, only a woman or her blood relative will have to file a case before a police station to make the offence cognizable.

For the woman, a provision for custody of the child and maintenance is included. For the accused, the provision of granting bail before the start of the trail has been made.

However, the accused will have to seek the bail from a court and not a police officer. Also, before allowing bail, the magistrate will also have to hear the wife.

A compromise can also be reached before a magistrate after the affected woman consents to it.

Addressing a press conference, the Law Minister accused the Congress party of not cooperating in the passage of the ‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’ pending in the Rajya Sabha, because of vote bank politics.

“It is my serious charge that despite having a woman leading the Congress, the did not lend support to the bill,” he told reporters.

Describing the practice as “barbaric and inhuman”, he said nearly 22 countries have regulated triple talaq. However, gender justice was given a complete go-by in a secular country like India because of blatant vote bank politics.

“I will again appeal to Sonia ji that this ordinance has been brought in the interest of the country to bring gender justice. I appeal to you to rise above vote bank politics and help pass it in the interest of justice for women,” he told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

The Union minister also appealed to Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee to help in the passage of the bill pending in Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks numbers.

The Lok Sabha, where it has a majority, has already passed the bill in December.

Back in August, the apex court had struck down the practice of instant divorce or ‘talaq-e-biddat’, wherein a Muslim husband can immediately divorce his wife by uttering the word “talaq” thrice, calling it unconstitutional.

Despite the SC verdict, over 200 cases of triple talaq were used to divorce women, necessitating the need for an ordinance to make it a penal offence.

The move was welcomed by Ishrat Jahan, a petitioner in the case and a victim of the practice.

“I welcome the Centre’s decision to bring an ordinance to make triple talaq a penal offence. It is a huge step towards empowering Muslim women in the country,” Jahan was quoted as saying.

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