On December 28 2017, during the winter session of the Parliament, the ‘Triple Talaq’ Bill was introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha. Also known as the Muslim Women Protection of Rights in Marriage Bill 2017 seeks to make the instant “triple talaq” a criminal offence and proposes up to three years in jail as punishment for a Muslim man who divorces his wife by saying “talaq” thrice. The government has said that after the Supreme Court held the practice unconstitutional last year, the bill must be passed to ensure justice to Muslim women. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad urged MPs to pass the bill pointing out that despite the Supreme Court order, instant “triple talaqs” are happening every day. While the Bill was brought up in the Rajya Sabha today, it couldn’t be passed due to disagreement between the ruling party and the opposition.
Opposition parties, want further scrutiny of the bill by a select committee of the house, primarily voicing concern over the provision for a jail term. They have argued that if a man who abandons his family goes to jail, he will not be able to provide for them. They want the bill to include provisions for giving financial aid to Muslim women. There are also concerns that if the law is passed, it could be misused as it gives anyone the right to complain to the police about the “triple talaq” to register a case and arrest a man.
In a landmark judgement in April 2017, the Supreme Court of India, declared the practice of Triple Talaq to be unconstitutional. Statistics have shown that while the highest number of divorces is not within the Muslim community, the male:female ratio of divorces is certainly highest among Muslims in India. Dr Ranjana Kumari, Director at CSR has this to say “We welcome the decision of the Parliament to legislate Triple Talaq, but I feel it is important to think about the framework of punishment. I feel it would be more suitable to incorporate this under civil law, as opposed to the criminal law.”
We do hope that some consensus on this important issue is arrived at, and the law is a strong one, which safeguards the interests of women in every respect.