Centre dilutes triple talaq bill

Centre dilutes triple talaq bill

A burqa-clad woman looks on during a protest against the proposed Triple Talaq bill in Mumbra near Mumbai. (PTI File Photo)

Bowing to the Opposition pressure, the Modi government on Thursday diluted the provisions of the triple talaq bill that now allows a magistrate to give bail to men found giving instant divorce to their wives.

The government is yet to introduce the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in the Rajya Sabha fearing that the Opposition may force amendments to it given their superior numbers in the Upper House.

The Union Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved a proposal to water down the provisions in the bill, including one that makes it clear that the police can lodge an FIR only when it is approached by the victim, her blood relative or a relative by marriage.

“This would settle fears that even a neighbour can file the FIR as is the case in any cognisable offence. This would check misuse,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here while briefing on the Cabinet decisions.

The absence of provisions for bail was one of the biggest sticking points raised by the Opposition.

Prasad made it clear that instant triple talaq will remain a “non-bailable” offence but a provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”.

Another amendment also makes the offence of instant triple talaq compoundable – a provision that allows a magistrate to settle the dispute between the husband and the wife.

Under the compoundable offence, both parties will have the liberty of withdrawing the case.

“The offence has been made compoundable. If the wife and the husband desire to settle their differences, then the magistrate can compound the offence on appropriate terms and conditions,” Prasad said.

He rejected suggestions that the changes to the Bill have been made under pressure. “There were fears and we have plugged the holes,” Prasad said and dared former Congress President Sonia Gandhi to ensure the passage of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

The Lok Sabha had passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in December last year that made the practice of instant divorce a criminal offence for which a police officer may arrest an accused without a warrant.

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