Lok Sabha passes bill criminalising Instant Triple Talaq
December 31, 2017

Lok Sabha on 28 December 2017 passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017. The Bill criminalises the practice of instant triple talaq among Muslims.

The bill was introduced by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the lower house on 28 December 2017 in the wake of the August 2017 ruling of Supreme Court declaring instant triple talaq practice as "null and void", unconstitutional and arbitrary.

Provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017
• The bill was prepared by an inter-ministerial group headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

• It makes instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat illegal and void, be it in any form- spoken form, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp or in any other manner whatsoever.

• It defines 'talaq' as 'talaq-e-biddat' pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.  Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce.

• It makes declaration of talaq a cognizable and non-bailable offence. A husband declaring talaq can be imprisoned for up to three years along with a fine.

• Any offence committed under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 will be treated as cognizable and non-bailable.

• It envisages entitling divorcee Muslim women for maintenance. It gives power to wife, upon whom talaq is pronounced, to approach a magistrate seeking subsistence allowance for herself and her minor children.

• A married Muslim woman will be entitled to custody of her minor children in the event of pronouncement of talaq by her husband, which will be determined by the Magistrate.

• The Bill will help in ensuring gender justice and gender equality of married Muslim women and will help them in practising their fundamental rights of non-discrimination and empowerment.

Supreme Court's ruling on Triple Talaq
• The Bill was prepared following the Supreme Court’s verdict on 22 August 2017, which held the Islamic practice of 'instant’ triple talaq' as unconstitutional.

• The verdict was delivered by a 5-judge bench led by the then Chief Justice J S Kehar. All the 5 judges belonged to 5 different religions.

• The verdict came out in a ratio of 3:2, as two judges including the Chief Justice voted to uphold the practice saying that it cannot be declared illegal, while others called it unconstitutional and banned it for a period of 6 months till the government introduced a new law.

• The court also held that the practice of instant triple talaq was violative of Article 14 and Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. It also goes against Shariat and the basic tenets of the Quran.

Concept of Triple Talaq as per Islamic Law and Why it became controversial?
• Marriage is treated as a social contract among Muslims and the Muslim Sharia (Islamic Law) provides the ways to terminate marriage in the form talaq.

• The term 'talaq' means 'freeing or undoing the knot', referring to a divorce. 

• Triple talaq is a process of Divorce when three talaqs are pronounced upon wife, one in each menstrual cycle, only to ensure that she is not pregnant.

• During the time of Prophet Mohammed, triple talaq was given in different time spans. Later, the tradition of triple talaq being pronounced at a single instance came to be accepted and over the years, this practise was institutionalized.

• The practise of instant triple talaq became controversial in recent decades, as it has been misused by married men to get rid of their wives for petty reasons.

• This kind of triple talaq in an impulsive and instantaneous manner raised concerns in the Muslim Community.

• 10 Islamic countries have already banned the practise of instant triple talaq including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Tunisia, Indonesia and Malaysia,.

• Countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan even have penal provisions like jail for one year for husbands who pronounce 'talaq' thrice at once.