President Kovind Gives Assent to Make Triple Talaq Penal Offence
The ordinance on triple talaq criminalises the practice of instant verbal divorce by Muslim men.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday night, 19 September, signed an ordinance banning the practice of instant triple talaq, a top law ministry functionary said.
"Yes, the president has signed the ordinance," the functionary said.
Even as the triple talaq bill is stuck in the Rajya Sabha, the PM Narendra Modi-led central government passed the ordinance on Wednesday which criminalises the practice of instant triple talaq, or instant verbal divorce, by Muslim men.
Addressing a press conference, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there were 201 cases of triple talaq that took place even after Supreme Court, in a landmark verdict, banned the practice last year.
Will the Ordinance Become Law?
The ordinance passed by the Union Cabinet will have similar provisions as The Muslim Women Protection of Rights in Marriage Act, or the Triple Talaq bill, which was cleared by the Lok Sabha in December last year.
However, the bill has been stuck in the Upper House due to opposition demands to make the offence bailable.
Even though the ordinance has been approved, it will have to go through the scrutiny of the Parliament since the Supreme Court, in a January 2017 verdict, had remarked that "re-promulgation of ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution" and cannot become a "parallel source of legislation."
RS Prasad Details Its Components
Detailing the components of the ordinance, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The core component of this ordinance is that an offence will be cognisable only when the FIR is filed by the victim wife or her close relations by blood or marriage.”
He added, “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, bail can be granted by the magistrate upon reasonable grounds but only after hearing the victim wife also.”
Appealing to Congress to pass the bill in Rajya Sabha, Prasad said, “Despite Sonia Gandhi being at the helm of the Congress, the party is not letting the bill pass in Rajya Sabha because of vote bank politics.” He added that the issue of instant triple talaq is not a matter of faith or religion or mode of worship, but a “simple matter of gender justice.”
As far as other provisions are concerned, the mother/victim wife must get custody of the minor child and the mother is entitled to a maintenance suitably determined by the magistrate for herself and the child.
Modi Govt Making Triple Talaq a Political Issue: Cong’s Surjewala
Speaking to reporters after the ordinance was passed on 18 September, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “The Modi government is making this a political issue instead of an issue for justice for Muslim women.”
The Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in December 2017 that made the practice a criminal offence for which a police officer could arrest an accused without a warrant.
The bill proposes that a man who pronounces triple talaq shall be punished with a three-year jail term and a fine.
The woman will be entitled to maintenance for her and her children. A woman can also seek custody of her minor children from the magistrate, who will take a final call on the issue.
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