New Delhi: Claiming that incidents of “talaq-e-biddat”, or instant triple talaq, have continued unabated despite the Supreme Court having struck it down, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance to ban the practice, with law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad saying there was a “compelling necessity” to do so.
Under the proposed ordinance, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. The Opposition Congress, meanwhile, accused the Narendra Modi government of treating the issue of instant triple talaq “more as a political football than a matter of justice for Muslim women”.
BJP president Amit Shah, on the other hand, praised the government’s decision and described it as “historic”.
Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial. These amendments were cleared by the Union Cabinet on August 29.
“There was an overpowering urgency and a compelling necessity to bring the ordinance as the practice continued unabated despite the Supreme Court order last year,” Mr Prasad told in a press conference after the Cabinet meeting.
Citing details of instant triple talaq cases, the minister said till now 430 incidents of triple talaq have come to the government’s notice through the media.
Of these, he said, 229 were reported before the Supreme Court order, while another 201 came to light after it. These cases were reported between January 2017 and September 13, 2018, he said.
The law minister used the opportunity to attack the Congress, saying it was not supporting the bill pending in the Rajya Sabha due to “votebank pressures”.
He said, “It is my serious charge that Sonia Gandhiji has maintained silence on the issue. She is silent... It has nothing to do with politics but gender justice and dignity,” he said.
He urged UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, BSP supremo Mayawati and Trinamul Congress’ Mamata Banerjee to support the bill in the next session of Parliament for the sake of “gender justice, gender equality and gender dignity”.
While the proposed law makes it a “non-bailable” offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail. In a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by the police at the police station itself. Mr Prasad said a provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”.