In August this year Supreme Court bench of 5 Judges delivered a 3:2 (Kurian Joseph, UU Lalit and RF Nariman) majority Judgment declaring the practice of triple talaq as unconstitutional.
Triple talaq which is also known as talaq-e-biddat is a form of irrevocable divorce used by Muslims in India especially those who belong to Hanafi Islamic school. The practice allows any Muslim man to legally divorcing his wife by pronouncing ‘talaq’ three times, orally or in written.
This practice has been under debate for a very long time in independent India and is connected to the debate about uniform civil code. There are two sides of the debate, one stating that personal laws should not be interfered with and the other supporting equality and protecting the status of Muslim women.
The Supreme Court in the case of Shayara Bano v. Union of India & Ors. , exercised its discretion to issue appropriate directions under Article 142 of the Constitution and directed the Union of India to make appropriate legislation particularly with reference to ‘triple talaq’.
Even after this judgment, around 100 cases relating to triple talaq were instituted in courts all over the country. Need for legislation was felt strongly.
Therefore, it was under this direction that the Rajya Sabha introduced Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha passed the bill on Thursday (28/12/17).
All over, the bill experienced smooth passage towards being passed by the parliament. However, objections were raised by various parties like Rashtriya Janata Dal, the CPI(M), the Samajwadi Party, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen and the All India Muslim League. The bill was regarded as faulty and arbitrary by many.
Even after all the suspicion and objections the bill has been passed and aims to improve the standard of gender equality in the country. Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded that the bill be sent to a standing committee to look into its various aspects, but the request was denied by union minister.
The bill is applicable all over India except state of Jammu &Kashmir. Section 3 of the bill declares divorce by pronouncing ‘talaq’ is illegal and void. Section 4 of the bill provides with punishment of up to three years imprisonment and fine if any man pronounces ‘talaq’.
The offence has been made cognizable and non-bailable.
This punishment was considered harsh and abrupt for a customary practice which was legal till recently by various congress leaders, on the other hand Shia waqf board has asked for harsher punishment. An interesting question arises from sec 4 of the bill, who will provide the maintenance (subsistence allowance) mentioned in the bill to wife if the husband goes to jail?
It is hard to please everyone especially at the sake of protection of large section of the society.
Even though, not everyone is happy about some aspects of the bill, it is highly accepted that such bill was needed. The passing of the bill is another attempt to improve the status of women in India. Passing of the bill in the winter session has for sure made a remarkable ending for the year of 2017.
By-Neha Bargotra, Student reporter, INBA