Triple Talaq Bill: Muslim women seek to retain criminalisation provision

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, and the Women and Child Development and Law Commission. The letter asks the government and opposition to pass the Bill pending in the Upper House. Coming week on January 29, the government is set to push the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in December 2017 but stalled in the Upper House. The stalling came into effect following the demand of opposition parties that it be sent to a Select Committee.

Right work needs to be done to bring a stringent law against triple talaq. Muslim women have been deprived of their rights for long. The need of this hour is to bring a law by standing out above political differences. This appeal by the BMMA, which is at the forefront the move, comes ahead of the Budget session beginning next week.

Women organizations like the Hasina Khan, Bebaak Collective, Jagori, AIDWA and academicians and activists such as Nivedita Menon, Teesta Setalvad, Mary E John, and, Nandini Sundar have signed petitions that seek to make the violation of the civil contract of marriage a criminal act. In addition to the appeal is a draft of the proposed legislation prepared after consultation with over 60,000 Muslim women in different states. BMMA draft has the following propositions-

  • That in talaq-e-biddat or instant triple talaq the right to file an FIR should be only with the wife.
  • The provision of one-year jail term for the husband, instead of three-year jail term lay down in the previous bill.
  • Need to make the offense a bailable crime.
  • Those in support of triple talaq should be given a more stringent punishment of three years in jail.
  • Abolition of other forms of divorces such as nikah halala, where a woman has to consummate her marriage with another man before returning to her former husband, and muta, a temporary marriage which can be dissolved at a predetermined time.

“The Opposition and the government need to work together to bring about a law against triple talaq. They can’t allow their political differences to stall a law. Muslim women have been denied legal protection for a long time because of abdication of the duty of the elected representatives,” said Zakia Soman, co-founder of the BMMA, at a press conference.

The BMMA was one of the petitioners in Shayara Bano case in the Supreme Court, headed by Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Safia Niaz. Soman said that if opposition and government can be on the same side of the table for GST, then why not triple talaq? The need is of strong political will. In Delhi despite the SC setting aside the aside triple talaq in its judgment of 22nd August, it is still in practice. Zakia said, “We have waited 70 years; we can wait some more time so as to have a watertight bill.”

The letter sent to the PM and others read, “Orthodox and patriarchal males have dominated the debate on rights of Muslim women and have stone-walled any attempt towards reform in Muslim personal law. In the process, the Muslim women have been denied their Quranic rights as well as their rights as equal Indian citizens.”