New Delhi, Sep 19: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance making triple talaq a punishable offence, said Ravi Shankar Prasad, minister for law and justice, IT.
He said that inspite of the Supreme Court annulling it last year, the practice continued “unabated”.
Addressing a press conference, the Union minister accused the Congress of not cooperating in the passage of the ‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill.
Describing the practice as “barbaric and inhuman”, he said nearly 22 countries have regulated triple talaq. However, gender justice was given a complete go-by in a secular country like India because of blatant vote bank politics.
“I will again appeal to Sonia ji that this ordinance has been brought in the interest of the country to bring gender justice. I appeal to you to rise above vote bank politics and help pass it in the interest of justice for women,” he told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
The move comes after the government had failed to pass it through both houses of Parliament. The move is being viewed as a big win for the rights of Muslim women.
The bill to criminalise talaq-e-biddat was passed by the Lok Sabha in the winter session of Parliament but got stuck in the Rajya Sabha with the opposition parties having reservations over criminal provisions in the draft law.
In view of the growing opposition to the legislation, the government in August approved three amendments to the ‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’. According to the new amendments, the proposed law will remain “non-bailable”, and the accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail.
Under a non-bailable law, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself.
Another amendment makes it clear that the police would lodge FIR only if approached by the victim (wife), her blood relations or people who become her relatives by virtue of her marriage.
The third amendment makes the offence of instant triple talaq “compoundable”, where a magistrate can use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and his wife. Under a compoundable offence, both parties have the liberty of withdrawing the case.
The SC had in a verdict in August last year declared instant triple talaq illegal and unconstitutional.