On September 18th the Union Cabinet cleared the ordinance and made instant triple talaq a criminal offence. The cabinet approval for enacting the law by an executive order has come nearly 10 months after the NDA government first moved a bill in the Parliament abolishing this form of divorce procedure.
Upon the enactment of the ordinance, the concept of divorcing a spouse under the instant ‘triple talaq’ is now considered as a punishable offense. This step was necessarily undertaken, as despite the Supreme Court annulling the concept last year it continued to be practiced ‘unabated’. Instant triple talaq, is an Islamic practice that allows men to divorce their wives immediately by uttering the word “talaq” thrice. This category of divorce had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in August last year.
The government adopted the ordinance route after the Opposition failed to come to an agreement with the government in the last two sessions of the parliament.
“We tried to reach out to Congress Party five-six times to develop consensus for passage of triple talaq but they did not cooperate on this sensitive matter of women empowerment,” said a BJP Parliament official, attacking the Sonia Gandhi and the Congress for not cooperating with the government to end the “barbaric practice”.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 had been cleared by the Lok Sabha in December last year but it had been stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the NDA was not having a majority as the opposition believed that the proposed laws had loopholes in them.
According to the new amendments, the proposed law will remain ‘non-bailable’ and the accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek a bail. The second amendment is for the police to lodge an FIR only if approached by the wife’s blood relations or people who become her relatives by virtue of her marriage. Lastly, it deals with making the ooffensea ‘compoundable’ giving both the parties the option and the liberty to withdraw the case.