A Bill which outlaws Triple Talaq – the practice of instant divorce in the Muslim community - was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, with 99 MPs voting for the Bill and 84 voting against it. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, bans instant triple talaq and makes the practice a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code.
The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void and illegal. It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq as 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 such talaq a cognizable offence - where the accused can be arrested without a warrant, and liable to a punishment of three years imprisonment and fine.
The offence, however, will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by the woman against whom talaq has been declared or any person related to her by blood or marriage. A woman against whom talaq has been declared is entitled to subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children. The amount of the allowance will be determined by a magistrate.
Introducing the Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that though the practice had been banned in many Islamic countries, India had not done so despite being a secular nation.
BJP ally Janta Dal (United) staged a walkout during the discussion.
"With all humility, I will neither speak in favour of the Bill nor support it. There are reasons for it. Every political party has its ideology and they have the freedom to move on that," said Bashishta Narain Singh of the JD(U).
Congress member Amee Yajnik supported the Bill but urged the government to take out the criminal angle from it.
She said that while the Minister quoted the Supreme Court's judgment while tabling the Bill, he forgot to mention the two words the court stressed on: "thoughtful consideration".
"An already distraught woman will now be made to deal with criminal justice system, jostle in Magistrate's court to seek bail for her husband, seek maintenance, custody of children. SC never asked for such a remedy," the Congress leader said.
The Bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha.