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Modi’s Union Cabinet Passed the Instant Triple Talaq Bill Declaring It “Illegal and Void”
A draft bill was prepared by a group of Ministers headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, based on the Supreme Court Shayara Bano judgment passed on the 22nd of August 2017 was passed by the Union Cabinet on Friday, 15th December 2017. The other members involved in the preparation of the draft law include Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Law Minister Ravi Shankar and his junior in the Ministry PP Chaudhary. This draft law was sent to various states to provide their view and a reply was expected within ten days ie. by the 10th of December 2017. Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have responded with a positive written reply supporting the draft legislation.
Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, which shall be applicable in all states except Jammu and Kashmir, provides that practice of talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq, talaq means divorce) is a criminal offence which is congnizable and non-bailable with imprisonment up to three years. A fine may also be imposed that shall be determined by a magistrate via a hearing. The Government justified that the reason to draft this law was to prevent further cases of instant triple talaq which have been reported to have increased even after the recent verdict given by the Supreme Court in August. The proposed law provides a victim of talaq-e-biddat the right to seek the custodial rights of her minor children and also claim maintenance from her husband for herself as well as her dependent children by registering a complaint with the police and then approaching a magistrate. This law explains that triple talaq may be in any form, whether it be oral, written or via electronic form (such as email, SMS or whatsapp), all shall be banned.
The Congress party Spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi has said that they are yet to read the contents of the proposed legislation and shall assess the bill to check if it is in accordance with the judgment laid down by the Supreme Court.
The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) has accepted this decision with open arms whereas the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and senior leaders of the Muslim community are yet to respond to this move of the government. They shall provide a response only after a meeting that is scheduled to be held on the 17th of December 2017.
Lok Sabha MP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader, Asaduddin Owaisi, has opposed the bill expressing his apprehension to Law Minister Ravi Shankar by stating that, “a constitutional value as important as gender justice is being used to merely further cynical political goals. In the absence of broad consultations or any sound legal basis for the introduction of such legislation, there is absolutely no chance of significant legal policy questions being addressed or discussed.” He further said, “It must be noted that the legal effect of Shamim Ara and Shayara Bano cases is that the issuance of ‘talaq’ unilaterally and in one sitting is bad in law, and therefore is of no legal value. Therefore, legally, at best, the issuance of such triple talaq can be considered as abandonment under existing law, including the Indian Penal Code. Furthermore, since such talaq will not be considered legally valid, a Muslim husband will continue to be bound by legal obligations to his wife. It is therefore absurd that a special law is being considered when existing legislation would be sufficient to provide appropriate remedies to Muslim women at the receiving end of triple talaq.”
In summation, the first step towards a radical shift in the Muslim Personal Law has been taken, but only time will tell of its acceptance by the Parliament, which is subject to the Opposition’s support as well as that of Muslim religious heads and the community. If political reasons are kept aside and a progressive approach is borne in mind by the religious groups involved, Muslim women will succeed in receiving their right and be free from such gender biased patriarchal orthodox practices.
- The Times of India, “Union Cabinet clears triple talaq bill”, Updated: Dec 15, 2017, 16:17 IST
The Economic Times, “Congress may oppose triple talaq bill if it violates Supreme Court verdict”, Dec 15, 2017, 10.12 PM IST
The Hindu, Cabinet nod for Bill making instant triple talaq a crime” by Sandeep Phukan, NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 15, 2017 15:50 IST; UPDATED: DECEMBER 15, 2017 22:30 IST
DNA, “May oppose triple talaq bill if it violates SC verdict: Congress” , Saturday 16 December 2017 0:33 IST
The Hindu, “Instant triple talaq Bill: AIMPLB strikes cautious note, Owaisi opposes”, by Nistula Hebbar, NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 15, 2017 21:12 IST, UPDATED: DECEMBER 15, 2017 23:05 IST