The Union Cabinet on Friday approved the Bill that makes instant triple talaq a criminal offence and the person performing it will be liable to a punishment of imprisonment of up to three years. Now, the bill will be sent for consideration to the Parliament, expectedly during the ongoing winter session to make it a law.
The instant triple talaq Bill got a fast-track clearance from the Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi on Friday, and will now be tabled in the on-going winter sessions at the Parliament. Considering the hype snaffled over this issue, the Bill is likely to get priority over other seemingly more important Bills focusing on economy that could affect 1.324 billion. Tagged as “very important”, the Cabinet said that this Bill will act as a “shield” to Muslim women and protect them from atrocities that have been gauged since long in the “name of religion”. Now that the law is on the way to become a law, supposedly, with a priority tag on, is it well conceived and well defined to serve the purpose it is meant for? Has the government indeed thought through it?
The first question is that since the Supreme Court has already ruled that pronouncement of instant triple talaq does not result into dissolution of the marriage. So can just he pronouncement be criminalised? Second question, the non-bailable three years long imprisonment of the ‘barbaric’ Muslim man who relies on instant triple talaq for divorce. Now in a zeal to ‘save’ the women, the lawmakers drafted a law that sentences three years of jail without any chance of reconciliation or remorse. Has the government thought about what happens to the wife and children of the man who has been imprisoned irreversibly for next three years? Sure the law says that women are entitled to receive maintenance money from the errant husband, but how exactly is a jailed person expected to give out maintenance expenses?
Considering that most sufferers of instant triple talaq are very poor, uneducated and depended women, how will they provide themselves and their children (if any), once their breadwinners are jailed for three years? Doesn’t this flawed law, seem to be indirectly burdening the same group of women that government is desperately running to save? Also, isn’t a marital discord a primary civil dispute? So why not treat triple talaq, which is ultimately a primary civil dispute – as such? Instant triple talaq is offensive and ill-informed practitioners misuse it, and it is also very much in contrast with the actual Islamic way of performing talaq, which is pronounced over a period of 90 days, with a scope of reconciliation.
So yes, we do need a law indeed, but not the kind that has been presented by the government and passed by the Union Ministry already. Instead, why not include it within the ambit of already existing Protection of Women form Domestic Violence Act, 2005? This will ensure speedy justice and will avoid expensive prosecution of criminal offences which takes years to solve. This inclusion can actually protect women as the magistrate’s “protection order” will ensure that the woman is entitled to stay in her marital home despite instant triple talaq, and can seek maintenance money from her errant husband in addition to other monetary expenses. And if the husband disobeys the protection order, he will face imprisonment as a punishment for disobeying the court’s order. Isn’t that way more effective and practical way to solve a primary civil offence, which it certainly is?
As of now, the law must already be on Parliamentary table and it can easily be bulldozed by the government, thanks to the majority they enjoy. May be it’s too late, but still, it needs to be paused and need some brain power to make it actually helpful for whom it is meant to be.