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Triple talaq bill will badly impact Muslim women and their families

By Shaheen Naqshbandi

The government, taking a hasty step on triple talaq issue, passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 in the Lok Sabha without any consultation and proper discussion. The first question that comes to the mind is whether there has been any deliberation on the issue of practical implications of sending husband to jail.

Will the bill give any solace to the woman impacted by instant triple talaq? Will it help the affected women or further increase their agony and hardship? As I have been fighting marital cases in difference courts in Mumbai and other cities, I have tried to analyze the issue in the right perspective.

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There is no denying that the triple talaq in one sitting is an abominable act. Several Muslim women had approached the Supreme Court and had demanded ban on the practice. The apex court accepted their plea and banned the practice of instant triple talaq. While giving its verdict, the apex court asked the union government to prepare a legal mechanism to take care of the issue. The government came up with the bill and presented it in the Parliament. The bill has already been passed from the lower house of the parliament.

Important features of the bill
1-Irrevocable talaq given in a single sitting will be illegal.

This means that if a person pronounces triple talaq in a single sitting, it will have no consequence. They will remain husband and wife, irrespective of the husband pronouncing triple talaq in one sitting.

2-If a person pronounces triple talaq in a single sitting, he can be prosecuted and punished. A fine can also be imposed on the husband in such case. The act can invite three year jail term.

3-As the instant triple talaq is against constitution and void, their marriage will not be affected by pronouncing triple talaq. The wife will be able to seek maintenance for her and her children as is the case in any marriage.

4-The crime of pronouncing triple talaq in triple sitting is a criminal act and a non-bailable offence. Even if the wife doesn’t approach the police or doesn’t file case against her husband, the police will have power to arrest the husband and initiate investigation.

Now let’s have a look at marriage, divorce and their important aspects.

According to the Shariah, marriage is a contract between husband and wife. This contract ends with talaq, whether it is simple talaq or triple talaq. Muslim woman, like any other woman in the country has the legal recourse under section 125 of IPC and under PWDVA. These two laws ensure that the woman has the protection of the law and gets all the benefits like maintenance, housing and protection. The present bill provides nothing additional to wife in the matter of marriage or divorce.

There is nothing in the bill that puts additional burden on husband when it comes to providing additional maintenance or responsibilities. The only addition is the fact that it makes triple divorce a criminal act. In my view it is sheer injustice for both husband and wife. Divorce is not a criminal act. If after pronouncement of talaq, and dissolution of marriage, a woman is unable to manage her maintenance and husband is not paying maintenance for her and children, it is a crime and the existing laws already cover these issues.

Arrest of a man for pronouncing triple talaq is an act that can destroy entire families. As the triple talaq is illegal and inconsequential, and it doesn’t affect the status of the marriage and the man remains responsible for maintenance of his family. Now the new bill says that the husband will be sent to jail for three years for pronouncing triple talaq.

Now the question arises as the husband is sent to jail who will provide for the family. Will the entire family not suffer due to this bill? Doesn’t the bill have power to destroy the entire family system or rather the Muslim family system? People dependent on the person will be stranded and left without support as the sole bread winner will be sent to jail.

As the bill says that triple talaq is a non bailable offence, it doesn’t empower anyone except the police officer who has the power to arrest the person whether the wife approaches the court or not. This will give a free hand to the police to target Muslim men.

After fighting several cases of Muslim marriage and divorce in different courts, I can claim without any iota of doubt that the bill has been brought to terrorize Muslims. It seems that the law has been brought to please those people who have no interest whatsoever in the welfare of Muslims in general and Muslim women in particular. The government should have held meeting with the concerned parties and discussed and analyzed the issue at various levels. (Translated from Inquilab Daily)

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