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Today, The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, which had earlier received of the Union Cabinet, is being discussed in the Lok Sabha.
Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad called the bill ‘historic’ as he presented the bill.
So, what exactly is the content of the Bill?
Section 3 deems any pronouncement of talaq by a person upon his wife by any manner whatsoever, void and illegal. Section 7 makes the offence cognizable and non-bailable, and Section 4 invites a prison sentence that could go up to three years, as well as a fine.
Further, in order to safeguard the rights of the woman against whom triple talaq has been pronounced, she would be entitled to subsistence allowance for herself and her dependent children, at the discretion of the Magistrate. The woman in question would also be entitled to custody of her minor children, as per Section 6.
The opposition has expressed some reservations regarding the Bill, noting that it is silent on the topic of burden of proof, and does not quantify the amount of subsistence allowance, etc.
In the Statement of Objects of the proposed legislation, it is noted that despite assurances from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the practice of instant triple talaq is still being carried out to this day.
“In spite of the Supreme Court setting aside talaq-e-biddat, and the assurance of AIMPLB, there have been reports of divorce by way of talaq-e-biddat from different parts of the country. It is seen that setting aside talaq-e-biddat by the Supreme Court has not worked as any deterrent in bringing down the number of divorces by this practice among certain Muslims. It is, therefore, felt that there is a need for State action to give effect to the order of the Supreme Court and to redress the grievances of victims of illegal divorce.”
The Bill concludes by stating,
“The legislation would 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.”
The Supreme Court decision was rendered in August by a Constitution Bench of then Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, along with Justices Kurian Joseph, Rohinton Fali Nariman, Uday Umesh Lalit and Abdul Nazeer.
While Justices Nariman and Lalit held that instant Triple Talaq is unconstitutional and violative of Article 14 (Right to Equality), Justice Joseph struck down the practice on the ground that it goes against Shariat and the basic tenets of the Quran. Justices Khehar and Nazeer dissented, leaving it open for the Centre to make a law regarding triple talaq.
Read the Bill:
Read the Supreme Court judgment: