Ordinance to make triple talaq an offence cleared

Ordinance to make triple talaq an offence cleared

The Muslim Women (Protection of Marriage) Bill has been pending in Parliament since December when the Lok Sabha passed it. However, it ran into opposition in the Rajya Sabha. (PTI File Photo)

The pronouncement of instant triple talaq is one step short of becoming a punishable offence with the Union Cabinet on Wednesday giving its nod to the promulgation of an ordinance after its efforts to get the Bill passed in Parliament came a cropper.

The Ordinance will now be sent to President Ram Nath Kovind for assent. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill has been pending in Parliament since it was passed by the Lok Sabha in December.

The move to promulgate an Ordinance comes ahead of Assembly elections to five states and after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day assurance to Muslim women about “leaving no stone unturned” to ensure that they do not suffer from the prospect of triple talaq.

“There was an overpowering urgency and a compelling necessity to bring the ordinance as the practice continued unabated despite the Supreme Court order last year,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a press conference after the meeting of the Union Cabinet.

After the Supreme Court held that instant triple talaq violated the Constitutional rights of Muslim women, the government brought a Bill in Parliament to make the practice of 'talaq-e-biddat' a criminal offence.

The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in December but ran into a strong Opposition in the Rajya Sabha – where it did not have adequate numbers. Bowing to Opposition pressure, the government diluted the Bill by making provisions for a magistrate to grant bail to a person accused of pronouncing instant triple talaq after hearing the wife's version.

However, it could still not be passed in the Rajya Sabha with the Opposition contending that the amended Bill was brought in a hurry.

The government also decided to make triple talaq a compoundable offence that would allow the two sides to stop legal proceedings and settle the dispute as per the terms and conditions determined by the magistrate.

The pronouncement of triple talaq remains a cognisable offence which attracts a three-year jail term along with fine.

Once approved by the President, the government has to replace the ordinance with a Bill within six months, failing which it would lapse.