The Union Cabinet has approved introduction of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 in the forthcoming session of the Parliament. It will replace Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance, 2019. Once passed by the Parliament, this law will put curb on the practice of talaq-e-biddat, or instant triple talaq.
Note: The ordinance was promulgated after Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 (to replace the 2018 Ordinance) was passed by Lok Sabha in December 2018 and but was pending in Rajya Sabha. However it had lapsed with dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.
- Purpose: It aims to ensure gender equality and gender justice to Muslim women by declaring practice of triple talaq as void and illegal. It also seeks to help in protecting the rights of married Muslim women and prevent divorce by practice of ‘talaq-e-biddat’ by their husbands.
- It makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form (email, text message etc) to be void and illegal i.e. not enforceable in law.
- It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat pronounced by Muslim husband resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce to his wife.
- It refers Talaq-e-biddat to practice under Muslim personal laws, as pronouncement of word ‘talaq’ by Muslim husband thrice in one sitting to his wife, resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.
- Offence and penalty: It makes declaration of talaq cognizable offence, attracting up to 3 years imprisonment with a fine.
- The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to offence is given by married woman against whom talaq has been declared or any person related to her by blood or marriage.
- Cognizable offence is one for which police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant.
- Allowance: It also provides for payment of subsistence allowance to married Muslim women against whom talaq has been declaredand dependent children. The amount of allowance will be determined by Magistrate.
- Bail Provisions: It empowers magistrate to grant bail to accused husband only after hearing woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
- Compoundable offence: Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared) can compound the offence. The terms and conditions of compounding of offence will be determined by Magistrate.
- Compounding refers to procedure where two sidesagree to stop legal proceedings and settle dispute.
- Custody of Children: Muslim woman is entitled to seek custody of her minor children against whom such talaq has been declared. However, it will be determined by Magistrate.