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Triple talaq is criminal offence

20 September 2018

India's cabinet approved a decree making the procedure a punishable offence because the government had struggled to pass the law in the face of opposition in parliament, as well as demonstrations by sections of the Muslim population angry at what they saw as interference. The Opposition Congress, meanwhile, accused the Narendra Modi government of treating the issue of instant triple talaq "more as a political football than a matter of justice for Muslim women".

The Bill, brought by the Narendra Modi government aiming to criminalise instant divorce or talaq-e-biddat by men by uttering "talaq" thrice in quick succession, is now stalled in the parliament.

Last August, the Supreme Court had eclared triple talaq illegal and unconstitutional. It provides for a magistrate to grant bail to a husband in a triple talaq case but only after the wife has been heard. "She is has nothing to do with politics but gender justice and dignity", he said.

He said, second, the case may be dropped if the duo reaches a compromise, but only if the wife approaches the magistrate. Under the Ordinance, the offence of Triple Talaq will remain a non-bailable one.

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"There was an overpowering urgency and a compelling necessity to bring the ordinance as the practice continued unabated despite the Supreme Court's order past year", Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.

The triple talaq bill pushed by the Government had met with a stiff resistance in the Rajya Sabha where it was opposed by several Opposition lawmakers.

Prasad told media on Wednesday that the government was compelled to issue an executive order because instant divorce continued in the wake of the high court ruling.

"There was an overpowering urgency and a compelling necessity to bring the ordinance as the practice continued unabated despite the SC order a year ago", Prasad told a press conference.

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Annie Raja, National Federation of Indian Women's general secretary, said she doubts the "intention and sincerity" of the government.

The bail provision was introduced after criticism that "criminalising" triple talaq will break up marriages and deprive families of breadwinners. Now the ordinance move from the government is viewed as a big win for the women rights activists in Muslim community.

Further detailing about the proposed Bill, Prasad said the victim wife will be entitled for the custody of the minor child and for a "maintenance suitably determined by the magistrate for herself and the child". The top court had, in a landmark 3-2 verdict, called triple talaq "arbitrary" and disagreed with it being part of religious practice.

According to the ordinance, the police can register an FIR only on the complaint of the woman who has been subjected to triple talaq by her husband.

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Triple talaq is criminal offence