With Parliament passing the triple talaq bill that makes instant divorce of Muslim women a criminal offence, various other laws related to marriage, divorce, polygamy, inheritance, custodial rights and adoption will need to be tweaked to bring them in sync with the new legislation
NEW DELHI: After several efforts by the government to make the practice of triple talaq a crime punishable under law, the Rajya Sabha finally gave its nod to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill on Tuesday and now only the President’s signature is required for the Bill to become a law that will make instant divorce given by a Muslim man to his wife a crime.But this opens a Pandora’s Box as various other laws will need to be tweaked to bring them in sync with the new legislation.
To give Muslim women a status at par with the women of other religions, there is also a need to thoroughly reform the Muslim personal law to bring it in line with contemporary ideas of justice and equality. But there is a need to modify the laws relating to marriage, divorce, polygamy, inheritance, custodial rights and adoption to make them gender-just.
Muslim personal law has sevral controversial provisions on these aspects. The major contention would be custody of children and adoption which the new triple talaq law is silent on.
Moreover, there are many unintended consequences of the Bill such as many Muslim men, just like Hindus, instead of divorcing their wives, can simple abandon them for fear of prosecution. But with the passing of this Bill, the issue of having in place Uniform Civil Code will again gain speed. There is an opportunity for this government to create an inclusive Uniform Civil Code across genders, groups, sexual orientations and associations.
Triple talaq has been an issue of concern for over 65 years for Muslim women, who comprise approximately eight per cent of the population as per the 2011 census. The 1,400-year-old practice of triple talaq among Muslims has widely been regarded as archaic and oppressive against women of the community. Now, a man found guilty of triple talaq can be punished with up to three years in prison and a fine.
SC held Triple talaq unconstitutional
The Supreme Court had in August 2017 held that the practice of triple talaq among Muslims was unconstitutional and struck it down by a 3:2 majority. The SC bench said that triple talaq violates the fundamental rights of Muslim women as it irrevocably ends marriage without any chance of reconciliation. Triple talaq may be a permissible practice but it is “retrograde and unworthy”, the SC said. It asked Parliament to make a new law on triple talaq within six months. If law doesn’t come in force in six months, then SC’s injunction would continue, it ruled. The SC bench referred to abolition of triple talaq in Islamic countries and asked why can’t India get rid of it. Most Islamic countries, including Pakistan and Bangla-desh have banned triple talaq.