States' views sought on triple talaq law

The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat

The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat

The key element of the bill is to recognise instant triple talaq as a cognizable criminal offence, punishable with up to 3 years in jail along-with a fine. "While we welcome the provisions (of the draft law), the glimpses of this bill as appearing in the press, leave a lot to be desired". They have been asked to respond to the draft urgently, he said.

The terms of the proposed legislation were finalised after discussions, by a Group of Ministers (GoM) which included Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The bill also proposes social security and other safeguards for victims, besides giving options to the wife to seek custody of minor children and demand maintenance for herself and dependent children.

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Most Islamic countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned triple talaq, but the custom has continued in India, which actually does not have a uniform set of laws on marriage and divorce that apply to every citizen.

The central government is nearly done with the draft law to penalise husband resorting to the practice included a three-year jail term. "But it continues. There have been 177 reported cases of instant talaq before the judgement and 66 after the order this year. Hence, the government planned a law", he explained.

These rights were not adequately dealt with in the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 which was drafted by the Congress government under then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and passed by Parliament largely as a means to overturn the Supreme Court verdict in the Shah Bano case. But going by the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, the government chose to consult states.

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Since the apex court declared triple talaq "unconstitutional and arbitrary", the NGO has sent a copy of its draft law to 62 women parliamentarians across all parties and also to various ministries.

The central government has forwarded the draft law to the states seeking their views.

Despite advisories being issued to the members of the community against the archaic practice, there seemed to be no decline in the cases of divorce by "talaq-e-biddat", they claimed.

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As of now, police can only resort to sections under Indian Penal Code for action as no specific act can be invoked against the husband in the absence of punitive provisions in law dealing with triple talaq.

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