Union Cabinet clears bill criminalising instant talaq

On Friday (December 15th) the union cabinet gave the nod, clearing the bill criminalising talaq-e-biddat or instantaneous triple talaq. The bill will be taken up in the Winter session of Parliament.  Under the proposed bill the practice of triple talaq will be made a cognizable and non-bailable criminal offence punishable with a three-year jail sentence, as well as a fine.

Talaq-e-biddat or instantaneous triple talaq is a practice which permits Muslim men to divorce their wives by the simple utterance of the word ‘talaq’ thrice causing a unilateral termination of the marriage.

On 22nd August, 2017, the Supreme Court of India declared triple talaq unconstitutional and violative of right to equality by 3:2 majority judgement. The majority judgment was delivered by Justice Kurien Joseph, Rohinton Nariman and UU Lalit. Dissenting judges were then CJI Kehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer.

The bill is titled Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, and provides a victim of talaq-e-biddat a right to seek maintenance from her husband before a magistrate’s court. She will also be entitled to her children’s custody, the draft law says.

The decision of the Union Cabinet has received mixed responses, with several members of civil society such as Bebaak Collective, one of the petitioners working for declaring the practice unconstitutional, has expressed their opposition towards criminalising of the practice.