New Delhi: The Centre is going to take the first step on Thursday to make instant triple talaq – a practice in a section of the Muslim community to divorce a wife – a crime. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will introduce a bill in Lok Sabha that has provision of a three-year jail term and a possible fine for any Muslim man who indulges in the practice.
Getting the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill passed from both houses of Parliament does not appear to be an easy task for the government as several opposition parties, including the Congress, the Left and the BJD and various Muslim organisations are expressing reservations over the proposed jail term for violators.
But the government is determined to press ahead with the bill in the Lok Sabha where it has a strong majority even though some opposition parties have demanded that the proposed law be scrutinised by a parliamentary committee in view of the objections raised by several quarters over criminalisation of triple talaq.
The proposed law will also apply to instant triple talaq in any form (writing or by electronic means, such as e-mail, text message and WhatsApp). It would also give the woman the right to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and her minor children. The woman can also ask for the custody of her minor children and the magistrate will take a final call on the issue, the draft law says.
Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad will introduce the bill amid expectations of uproar and ruckus. While it is not to be taken up for immediate discussion, the government is prepared for a short round of comments and is ready to put forward its justification for the proposed law.
Congress and Left leaders have said that criminalisation and a jail sentence may be excessive while some Muslim organisations have held that the Supreme Court ruling striking down triple talaq as unconstitutional is against Sharia law. A section of activists have argued that marriage is a civil contract and should not involve criminal proceedings.
The government side has argued that violations or offences such as bigamy and polygamy as well as other aspects of marriage such as dowry and domestic violence attract criminal proceedings. The law against instant triple talaq must have deterrent value and milder punishments like fines will not do.
The rationale for the government in bringing forward the bill to criminalise triple talaq follows instances of the practice being reported even after the Supreme Court’s ruling and the open declaration by a section of clerics and conservative outfits rejecting the order.