India is to ban the practice of triple talaq—-or instant divorce—-being indulged in by Muslim husbands, and lock them up in jail for three years. This Hindu-majority secular nation will be the 20th country in the world to do so.
Top sources in the government said the government will introduce a bill in Parliament’s winter session that starts on December 15 banning this much-reviled practice.
Analysts have welcomed the bill. A Hindu-majority secular state, India is home to 170 Muslims. Every seventh Indian is a Muslim. And every 10th Muslim on the planet lives in India.
This country of one billion Hindus, and 340 non-Hindus practising dozens of religions, boasts of being home to the third largest Muslim population in the world next to Indonesia (209 million) and Pakistan (176 million). Every fourth human being practices Islam. And Muslims, now numbering 1,800 million, are the world’s second largest religious group after Christians (2,173 million). Hinduism, practised by 1,000 million people, is the third largest religion.
Once the proposed Muslim Woman Protection of Rights on Marriage bill is approved by Parliament, the law will adjudicate all cases of instant triple talaq across the country, except Jammu and Kashmir.
The Central Government has told State governments to urgently revert to the provisions of a draft law to deal with instant triple talaq or Talaq-e-Biddat that provides for a maximum jail term of three years.
As per provisions of the draft bill, a husband who resorts to instant triple talaq can be jailed for up to three years and be fined. Instant triple talaq in any form — oral, written or electronic form — has been banned and made a cognizable offence.
The bill also provides for a subsistence allowance of a harassed Muslim woman and her dependent children and the custodial rights of minor children.
In August 2017, the Indian Supreme Court passed a landmark judgement, declaring instant triple talaq as illegal and unconstitutional. However, even after this judgement, there have been 67 cases of instant talaq.
Before the August 22 judgement, there were 177 cases of instant talaq, with Uttar Pradesh and Bihar recording the maximum number of cases.
After the Supreme Court verdict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had set up a group of Ministers that included Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to draft the proposed legislation.
The issue of ending instant triple talaq was a part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) campaign in the Uttar Pradesh elections and the party believes it paid dividends among Muslim women.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment declaring instant triple talaq as unconstitutional, had cited laws from 19 countries, including Pakistan and Egypt, which have abolished the practice. The Arab states that have laws against instant triple talaq include Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Yemen.
The Southeast Asian countries that have abolished instant triple talaq include Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines. India’s neighbours Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka also have enacted legislation against the practice.