New Delhi: The Union cabinet on Friday cleared the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, to make the practice of "instant" triple talaq an offence.
The controversial Islamic practice allows men to leave their wives immediately by stating "talaq" (divorce) three times.
Instant triple talaq, or Talaq-e-biddat involves Muslim men divorcing their wives by mentioning the word ‘talaq (divorce)’ three times in one go, sometimes over email, WhatsApp messages or letters.
The proposed bill hands out a three-year jail sentence as well as fine, and states that the offence will be cognisable and non-bailable.
Titled the ‘Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017’, the proposed law also gives a “victim” of Talaq-e-Biddat a right to seek maintenance from her husband before a magistrate’s court. She will also be entitled to her children’s custody, the draft law says.
In November, the Centre had said it was ready with a new bill to ban "triple talaq" and would be presented by the government lawmakers when they meet for the next session of Parliament, which commenced on Friday.
In August, the Supreme Court had struck down the custom as “arbitrary” and “unconstitutional” in a verdict that was hailed as a watershed moment for gender justice in India.
The verdict vindicates the stand of the government, which had said "triple talaq" violates fundamental rights of women.
The Supreme Court verdict was delivered by a panel of five judges from different major faiths -- Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. Arguments concluded in May.
According to the proposed law, a victim of instant divorce can seek the custody of her minor children as well as maintenance from her husband by approaching a magistrate after registering a complaint with police.
Under the law, triple talaq in any form - spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS or WhatsApp - would be banned.
According to the draft bill sent out to states earlier proposed that triple talaq be made a cognisable and non-bailable offence that would attract a jail term of three years.
The draft law was sent to states for their views on December 1 and they were asked to reply by December 10.
Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have written back to say that they support the draft legislation.
The draft law was prepared by an inter-ministerial group headed by home minister Rajnath Singh. The other members include External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and his junior in the ministry PP Chaudhary.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, a non-governmental body that lobbies for the application of Islamic civil laws and opposes any ban on triple talaq, also welcomed the verdict, saying it “accords protection to Muslim personal laws”.