Triple talaq: The amended drat bill failed to clear the Rajya Sabha in the last parliament session
New Delhi: Triple talaq or instant divorce is just short of becoming a punishable offence after the government cleared an ordinance or executive order on Wednesday to enforce a proposed law that could not be passed in parliament in August. President Ram Nath Kovind signed the ordinance on Wednesday night, a top law ministry functionary said. The goverment's 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."
Here's your 10-point cheat-sheet to this big story:
- 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.
- After the president's sign-off on the ordinance, "triple talaq" -- the practice of Muslim men uttering "talaq" thrice to get a divorce -- will be punishable with a jail term of up to three years and a fine. The woman will be entitled to maintenance.
- 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.
- The proposed law also addresses "nikah halala", which requires the divorced woman to marry someone else and consummate the marriage if she wants to remarry her husband.
- Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said a law was needed as triple talaq persisted despite the Supreme Court's ban last year.
- The judges in favour of a new law, however, wanted the government to take into account the concerns of some Muslim organisations who are critical of any attempts to meddle with religious laws, arguing it curtails their constitutional right to govern their affairs.
- "There was an overpowering urgency for the ordinance. It is not about caste or religion or faith but gender justice, dignity and equality for women," said Mr Prasad, accusing Congress president Sonia Gandhi of stalling the move "despite being a woman".
- "I would like to appeal to Sonia Gandhi. This ordinance is for justice for women," the minister added, extending his appeal to two more women opposition politicians, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee.
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