New Delhi: The Modi government on Friday deferred the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 – popularly known as Instant Triple Talaq Bill, which criminalises the practice with a jail term up to three years, till Parliament’s next session.
The move comes a day after the Union Cabinet approved three amendments in the yet-to-be-passed Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 – popularly known as Instant Triple Talaq Bill, making it permissible for a magistrate to give bail for the offence.
In the tweaked version, the complaint can be filed only by the woman or her family. The woman can also drop charges if her husband is open to a compromise. The possibility of bail has been brought in; a judge can decide whether to grant bail after hearing the wife.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the Union Cabinet has approved three amendments to the ‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’ which has been cleared by Lok Sabha and pending approval of Rajya Sabha, according to PTI.
Today is the last day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament and it was expected that the government will introduce amendments in Rajya Sabha. If the bill is cleared by the upper house, it will have to go back to Lok Sabha for approval of the amendments.
But, with there being no consensus among the different parties regarding the triple talaq bill, the legislation will not be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Friday. With the Monsoon Session of Parliament unlikely to be extended further, the bill will now be taken up for debate in the Winter Session.
While the proposed law will remain “non-bailable”, the accused can approach a magistrate even before the trial to seek bail. Under a non-bailable law, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself.
Prasad said a provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail after hearing the wife. “But the offence of instant triple talaq under the proposed law remains non-bailable,” he clarified.
Sources later said the magistrate would ensure that bail is granted only after the husband agrees to grant compensation to the wife as provided in the bill. The quantum of compensation will be decided by the magistrate, as per the bill, according to PTI.
“There were fears and we have plugged the holes … nothing has been done under pressure,” Prasad said in response to a question.
Another amendment makes it clear that the police would lodge FIR only if approached by the victim (wife), her blood relations or people who become her relatives by virtue of her marriage.
“This would settle fears that even a neighbour can file FIR as is the cases in any cognisable offence. This would check misuse,” the minister said.
The third amendment makes the offence of instant triple talaq “compoundable”. Now, a magistrate can use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and his wife. Under a compoundable offence, both parties have the liberty of withdrawing the case. Giving instant triple talaq will continue to be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
The government amendemnts came after more than 03 months long massive protests by Muslim organisations led by the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). To complicate the situation for the ruling BJP, women organisations who were upfront in seeking a ban on triple talaq demanded amendments in the proposed law.
Differences over practice of Triple Talaq exist in the Islamic Sharia since the tenure of second Caliph Omar (RA). Muslim scholars and jurists argue that concurrent talaq or triple talaq in one go has never been approved by Prphet Mohammad (peace be upon him), during the tenure of first Caliph Abu Bakr (RA) and the first two years of Caliph Omar’s caliphate.
Caliph Omar later approved it as punishment, scholars argue, but later on the practice was annulled by Muslim jurists. It is on this basis, the practice of concurrent talaq has been termed invalid in most of the Muslim countries.
Muslims in India, majority of them followers of Hanafi school of thought, are adamant on the invalid concurrent talaq and are fighting a case with women activists in the Supreme Court.
Interestingly, some renowned Hanafi scholars have also ruled against concurrent or triple talaq. According to the sources in the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the members fear that agreeing to any change on triple talaq would open floodgate of interference in other Sharia matters.
It is also learnt that there is a strong dissent among the members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMLB) and especially some women members are upset over board’s handling of the situation.