On Friday, The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was introduced in the Lok Sabha, and will be taken up for consideration and passing. This Bill, which makes instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a punishable offence, follows the Supreme Court judgment on August 22, 2017 in the case of Shayara Bano vs. Union of India.
In a majority 3:2 judgment the apex court set aside instant talaq as a "manifestly arbitrary" practice. It also said, "Given the fact that Triple Talaq is instant and irrevocable, it is obvious that any attempt at reconciliation between the husband and wife by two arbiters from their families, which is essential to save the marital tie, cannot ever take place."
What does the Bill say?
It makes the pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat "void and illegal." According to clause 3 of the Bill, "Any pronouncement of talaq by a person upon his wife, by words, either spoken or written or in electronic form or in any other manner whatsoever, shall be void and illegal."
What is the proposed punitive measure?
A man who pronounces talaq on his wife will be punished with a jail term and a fine. This Bill also makes the pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat a non-bailable offence.
Clause 4 of the Bill states, "Whoever pronounces talaq referred to in section 3 upon his wife shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and fine."
Clause 7 says, "an offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable within the meaning of the Code." (The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973)
How does this protect Muslim women's rights?
The woman upon whom talaq is pronounced will have to receive an allowance from her husband, and she retains custody of her children.
Clauses 5 and 6 of the Bill say, " a married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced, shall be entitled to receive from her husband such amount of subsistence allowance for her and dependent children," and "shall be entitled to custody of her minor children in the event of pronouncement of talaq by her husband."
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in the statement of objects and reasons attached to the Bill says that this legislation will, "help in ensuring the larger Constitutional goals of gender justice and gender equality of married Muslim women and help subserve their fundamental rights of non-discrimination and empowerment."