MUSLIM WOMEN (PROTECTION OF RIGHTS ON MARRIAGE) BILL, 2019
What’s in news?
Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 which criminalises instant triple talaq among Muslims and attracts a jail term of three years for the husband.
- The bill was cleared after a prolonged debate in the lower house with a majority of 303 votes this is the first time that the bill was tabled in the 17th Lok Sabha by the Central Government after coming back to power.
- The bill, meanwhile, seeks to replace the ordinance passed by the previous government in February.
- By following Pakistan, Malysia, Bangladesh which ban practicing triple talaq, India passed the bill in the Lok Sabha. More than 20 Islamic countries banned this practice.
- The case dates back to 2016 when the Supreme Court had sought assistance from the then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of “triple talaq”, “nikah halala” and “polygamy”, to assess whether Muslim women face gender discrimination in cases of divorce.
- Opposing the practice of triple talaq, the Centre told the top court that there is a need to re-look at these practices on grounds of gender equality and secularism.
- The Supreme Court later announced the setting up of a five-judge constitutional bench to hear and deliberate on the challenges against the practice of ‘triple talaq, nikah halala’ and polygamy.
- The issue gained political momentum on March 2017 when the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court that the issue of triple talaq falls outside the judiciary’s realm and that these issues should not be touched by the court.
- However, on August 22 this year, the Supreme Court set aside the decade-old practice of instant triple talaq saying it was violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
- Previously the Supreme Court criminalized the instant triple talaq. But even after criminalizing the act, several cases were registered. Then the Government passed an ordinance inorder to curb the talaq activity.
Provision of the bill:
- The Bill makes declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine. (A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant.) The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by:
- the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or
- any person related to her by blood or marriage.
- The government had included certain safeguards such as provision of bail for the accused before trial. While the bill makes triple talaq a “non-bailable” offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail. A provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”
- A jail term of three years for the husband who divorce his wife through instant triple talaq.
- A compensation money have to be given to the divorced women.
- A Muslim woman against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. The manner of custody will be determined by the Magistrate.
- AIMIM Asaduddin Owaisi calling the bill as “anti-Islam”.
- The problem between the husband and wife is a civil dispute. How it can be criminalized being a civil dispute?
- If the jail term is for three years, then the woman will be remain as the wife of the man, who is in jail?
- If a person is in jail, then how he can provide the maintenance cost for the woman?
- The bill was considering as a discriminatory, as as it sought to target only Muslim women even when the problem of abandoning-wives was not unique to the community.
- The Opposition parties demanded that the bill be referred to a select parliamentary committee for discussion and debate.