The long-pending amendment to Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, which criminalizes Triple Talaq, has been passed in the Lok Sabha with 245 MPs in favour of the bill, 11 being against it. Triple Talaq is the practice of a Muslim man instantly divorcing his wife by pronouncing the word “Talaq” thrice. Since 2016, the said practice has come under a lot of scrutinies for being regressive and violating “Equality before the Law”. On 13 May 2017, during the hearings before its final judgment, the Supreme Court described instant triple talaq as the “worst form of marriage dissolution”. The bill, which will now go to the Rajya Sabha, proposes that instant Triple Talaq will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. It also has a provision that only empowers a magistrate and not a local police officer to release the husband on bail.
Congress and AIADMK, which have been non-committal on their stance over the bill, staged a walkout during the heated 4-hour debate in the Lok Sabha. The main concerns of the opposition were the jail term being too harsh a punishment for desertion, maintenance of the wives after the husband gets jailed and whether such laws would keep a family together. However, as rightly observed by the government, the helpless wives were divorced by their husbands over phone, SMS or other messaging services. The bill ensures an effective way to curb this heinous practice of deserting your family. Moreover, even Islamic nations have banned Triple Talaq and it is a shame that a secular nation like India continues to adhere to it. The opposition is giving this Bill, which essentially upholds the rights and dignity of a woman, a communal colour whereas AIMPLB is propagating the bill as a weapon to penalize men and not a law to empower women. However, as clear from the provisions in the bill and stance of the government, Triple Talaq Bill is not about “he vs she” or “Hindu vs Muslim”, it is essentially about human rights.