Triple talaq or instant divorce is now a punishable offence as President Ramnath Kovind gave his assent to the executive order, earlier cleared by the Union cabinet.
The decision, ahead of a series of elections, follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day declaration that he would "leave no stone unturned to ensure that Muslim women do not suffer due to triple talaq".
With the president's sign-off on the ordinance, "triple talaq" -- the practice of Muslim men uttering "talaq" thrice to get a divorce -- has become a punishable with a jail term of up to three years and a fine. The woman will be entitled to maintenance.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 has been passed in the Lok Sabha but has been stalled in the Rajya Sabha -- where the government does not have a majority -- as three big changes were introduced on the last day of the monsoon session. The ordinance has to be cleared in parliament within six months.
In the reworked version, a complaint can be filed only by the woman or her family. That addresses concerns that anyone, even neighbours, could file such complaints.
There is also room for take-back, unlike the original version. A woman can drop charges if her husband is open to a compromise. The crime remains non-bailable, as a deterrent, the government says. But while the police can't grant bail, a judge can -- after hearing the woman.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said a law was needed as triple talaq persisted despite the Supreme Court's ban last year.
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