To end instant triple talaq, Modi govt eyes bringing new law in winter session of Parliament
By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 21, Nov 2017, 17:09 pm IST | UPDATED: 21, Nov 2017, 17:34 pm IST
The government plans to ban a controversial Islamic instant divorce practice in the next session of Parliament, providing a legal framework to prosecute Muslim men calling off marriages using a custom outlawed by the Supreme Court.
Sources said on Tuesday that the government had set up a ministerial panel and will either bring a new law or amend existing provisions to ban talaq-e-biddat and punish those practising it.
Talaq-e-biddat involves Muslim men divorcing their wives by mentioning the word ‘talaq (divorce)’ three times in one go, sometimes over email, WhatsApp messages or letters. In August, the top court had struck down the custom as arbitrary and unconstitutional in a verdict that was hailed as a watershed moment for gender justice in India.
But in the next few months, several complaints of instant triple talaq poured in from across the country with Muslim women saying they were divorced through the custom despite the SC order. “Even police are helpless as no action can be taken against the husband in the absence of punitive provisions in the law,” the sources said. The government’s proposed move could help plug that loophole.
“It is to this end that the positive step being taken by the government of enacting a legislation will go a long way in deterring the Muslim husbands from divorcing their wives…,” the sources added. They said the reason behind the new cases of triple talaq could be lack of knowledge about the SC decision, or the absence of legal punishment.
The top court decision in August, which said instant triple talaq was against the tenets of Islam and violated gender equality, had come on the petitions of several Muslim women who were divorced using the custom. The ensuing debate forged an unlikely coalition between women groups, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party which wanted the law quashed, against some Muslim outfits that contended the state had no right to interfere in religious matters.
“Talaq-e-biddat” is banned in 22 Muslim-majority countries, including Pakistan and ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia. Muslim men in India can still divorce using two other forms of talaq that have a three-month cooling off period.