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NDA approves ordinance making Triple Talaq punishable offence

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New Delhi: In a rather important move, the Union Cabinet, on Wednesday approved an ordinance making triple talaq a punishable offence. This move comes after the government failed to pass the bill through both houses of the Parliament.

With the Apex Court, in January 2017 holding that ‘re-promulgation of the ordinance is a fraud on the constitution’ and hence not allowed, the ordinance will be placed before the parliament and the bill will still need to be passed.

The bill makes instant “triple talaq” (delivered orally, including telephone or mobile call or writing or through electronic mode) a criminal offence and proposes a three-year jail term for a Muslim man who divorces his wife by uttering the word “talaq” thrice. It has provisions for imprisonment and fine for anyone invoking it.
The ordinance has provisions similar to The Muslim Women Protection of Rights in Marriage Act or the Triple Talaq Bill that was cleared by the Lok Sabha in December 2017.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is quoted in news18 saying that the core component is that an offence will be cognizable only when the FIR is filed by the victim wife or her close relations by blood or marriage. “Secondly, it’s compoundable, it can be compromised only at the insistence of the wife upon appropriate terms and conditions as determined by the magistrate. Thirdly, a bail can be granted by the magistrate upon reasonable grounds but only after hearing the victim wife also,” he said adding that the victim wife must get the custody of minor children and would be entitled to a maintenance suitably determined by the magistrate for herself and the children.

The bill had evoked opposition in the Rajya Sabha as several lawmakers demanded close scrutiny by Select Committee as they found the draft to be ‘shoddy’.

The Supreme Court had in a verdict in August last year declared instant triple talaq illegal and unconstitutional. Muslim women had petitioned the court, arguing that the practice of husbands divorcing them through “Triple Talaq”, including by Skype and WhatsApp, not only violated their rights but also left many women destitute. Ironically, as many as 70 cases of divorce of this fashion were reported after the SC order.

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