Muslim women can now take a deep breathe of relief, as the widely practiced law under the Islam religion has finally come to an end after the continuous struggle to end it by the central government under PM Modi.
Giving “triple talaq” will be a cognizable and non-bailable offence and would be punishable a jail term of three years, according to a draft law aimed to curb the practice.
The draft was finalized and prepared by an inter-minister group headed by home minister Rajnath Singh. The other members included external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, finance minister Arun Jaitley, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and his junior in the ministry PP Chaudhary.
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 the police.
Under the draft law, triple talaq in any form – spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp – would be banned.
“According to census data from 2011, the divorce rate among Muslims was 0.56 percent less than the Hindu community, which stood at 0.76 percent”.
Major statements on Triple Talaq!!!
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken on the issue a number of times, calling for “justice for Muslim women”. Modi has urged leaders not to politicize the issue. His effort was purely towards equalizing the society and its laws to the Muslim women, as its men.
Swami Prasad Maurya from his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said last month that Muslims use triple talaq to satisfy their “lust”.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – a Hindu far-right group and ideological head of the BJP – has been vocal in calling for these changes. It has been pushing for doing away with the idea of personal laws and replacing them with a Uniform Civil Code – a controversial proposal that Muslims have vociferously opposed.
What is the practice of “Triple Talaq” or Instant Divorce?
“Triple talaq” is a form of divorce that was practiced in India, whereby a Muslim man could legally divorce his wife by pronouncing talaq (the Arabic word for divorce) three times. It is prevalent among India’s Muslim community majority of who follow the Hanafi Islamic school of law.
The pronouncement could be oral or written. The man did not need to cite any cause for the divorce and the wife need not have been present at the time of pronouncement.
In the recommended practice, a waiting period was required before each pronouncement of talaq, during which reconciliation was attempted. However, it had become common to make all three pronouncements in one sitting. While the practice was frowned upon, it was not prohibited. A divorced woman could not remarry her divorced husband unless she first married another man, a practice called “Nikah halala”. Until she remarried, she retained the custody of male toddlers and prepubescent female children. Beyond those restrictions, the children came under the guardianship of the father.
Why has this practice been in news recent times:
The issue has attracted media attention in the past two years since a Muslim organization, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), launched a campaign to ban triple talaq and “nikah halala” – a practice where divorced women, in case they want to go back to their first husbands, have to consummate a second marriage.
“In the course of our work, we have regularly been approached by our sisters, complaining about mistreatment and misuse of the oral talaq system. In most cases, men go scot-free and believe their action is approved by the Quran,” Zakia Soman, one of the cofounders of the BMMA, told Al Jazeera in an earlier interview.
It has generated debate around the rights of Muslim women as the issue of divorce, marriage, and inheritance come under the purview of the Muslim Personal Laws. India has a provision for personal laws for all religious communities.
But the “All India Muslim Personal Law Board” (AIMPLB), a non-governmental organization that aims to educate Muslims on the protection and application of Islamic laws, has opposed the move to ban triple talaq and polygamy. The latter is illegal in India.
The AIMPLB has opposed what it calls government interference in the personal laws of the Muslim community, who form nearly 14 percent of India’s 1.3 billion populations.