New bill to end instant triple talaq this winter session

The central government plans to bring in legislation to ban instant triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, in the Winter session of Parliament, providing a legal framework to prosecute Muslim men calling off marriages using a custom outlawed by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court, in August, had passed the order terming the system of instant Talaq as unconstitutional. If a suitable law is introduced then it will make the practice an offence under the penal provisions of the country.

Once the law is made to make the triple talaq an offence, the victims will have the option of approaching the police and legal system for the redressal of their grievances and for the action to be taken against the husband.

Despite the apex court’s order in August, there have been sporadic incidents of husbands annulling their marriages through phones or messages or by uttering the word Talaq thrice.

Earlier this month, Yasmeen Khalid, the wife of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) professor Khalid Bin Yusuf Khan had alleged that she was given instant divorce by her husband on WhatsApp.

There are several complaints of instant triple talaq where Muslim women say they have been left destitute by husbands divorcing them through triple talaq, including by Skype and SMS. All these are happening despite the Supreme Court’s order.

“Even police are helpless as no action can be taken against the husband in the absence of punitive provisions in the law,” the sources said. The government’s proposed move could help plug that loophole.

“It is to this end that the positive step being taken by the government of enacting a legislation will go a long way in deterring the Muslim husbands from divorcing their wives,” the sources added.

They said the reason behind the new cases of triple talaq could be lack of knowledge about the Supreme Court decision or the absence of legal punishment.

Prime Minister led Bharatiya Janata Party government has opposed the system, terming the practice of husbands verbally divorcing wives as unfair to women.

Shaista Amber, president of All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, welcomed the government’s decision and said, “I want to thank the judges of Supreme Court for banning triple talaq and I’m happy that the government is keeping its promise of making a law within six months of the SC verdict”.

Many Muslim countries have banned triple talaq, including Pakistan and conservative Saudi Arabia. It survived in India because religious communities are allowed to apply their own laws in personal matters such as marriage, divorce and property inheritance.