What is the Triple Talaq Bill all about?

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Before understanding ‘Triple Talaq’, let us first understand what a ‘Nikah’ (Marriage) stands for in Islam. Essentially, nikah is nothing more than a contract laid down between the husband and wife in a ‘Nikahnama’. This is also the basic difference between a Hindu Marriage and a Muslim Marriage. For the former, marriage is a divine sacrament whereas for the latter, it is a contract drawn between the husband and the wife which can be revoked anytime by the husband by the means of talaq (Divorce).

According to Islam, there are two ways by which the husband can givetalaqto his wife, namely, ‘Talaq-e-Sunnah’ (Divorce as per the Prophet’s sayings and Quranic dictation) and ‘Talaq-e-Biddat’ (Instant divorce or what is also known as the triple talaq). The former is revocable while the latter is not.

‘Biddat’ comes from a word ‘biddah’ which literally means innovation and since all Muslims are advised against introducing ‘biddahs’ into their religion, this is the reason that most Muslim women organizations have been opposing this Talaq-e-Biddat since many years. This talaq gives the husband authority to divorce his wife by even a SMS or a phone call.Initially, this practice was promoted by Caliph Umar and now is resolutely opposed by thousands of Muslim women who are exploited and mistreated by their husbands. And surprisingly, these women are not less in number, rather make up about 8 percent of our population, according to the Census 2011, yet for over 65 years they had to bear this misery.

To end this ordeal faced by the Muslim women, the Government of India came up with the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 that would make the practice of triple talaq a penal offence. According to the proposed law, practice of triple talaq has been pronounced as illegal and void and any man found practicing it would have to serve a sentence of three years. It empowers only the magistrate (not any police officer) to release accused on bail. The government has also taken care that nobody misuses this law and has introduced three such provisions. Firstly, only the wife or her close relative can file a police case against her husband. Secondly, the case can be dropped only if the couple mutually decides to compromise. Thirdly, the magistrate cannot pronounce bail to the husband before hearing the wife.

This bill was passed by the lower house of the Parliament on December 27, 2018 and by the Upper House on July 30, 2019.

India is not the first country that has taken up the reforms in the Muslim mode of talaq, rather is very late in doing so. Our neighbor Pakistan passed the ‘The Muslim Family Laws Ordinance’ in 1961 that abolishes triple talaq and lays a set of rules as to how the husband can divorce his wife. Another instance is of Morocco where there is again a majority of Islamic population. The Moroccan Family Code (Moudawana) passed in 2004, prohibits the husband to pronounce divorce unilaterally except when the procedure is being supervised by someone. Similar legislations can also be found in countries like Iran, Tunisia, Indonesia and Algeria that abolishes the unilateral right of the husband to give his wife divorce and also compels both the parties to resort to a court of law.

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