The Lok Sabha on 28 December 2017 passed a bill that criminalizes instant divorce with three years of imprisonment for Muslim husbands after the government rejected a demand from the Opposition to refer the legislation to a Parliamentary standing committee for detailed consideration.
The Muslim Women (PROTECTION OF RIGHTS ON MARRIAGE) Bill, 2017 was passed by a voice vote after rejecting a resolution moved by Revolutionary Socialist Party member that the legislation be circulated for public opinion.
Various amendments moved by opposition members were negative in divisions. The government’s determination to get the Bill passed could be gauged from the fact that it was introduced in the morning and taken up for consideration in the afternoon by suspending relevant rules and then passed in the evening by sitting late beyond the scheduled close of the House.
Law and Justice Minister Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the bill and later piloted it in the Lok Sabha, said history was being created today. He said the issue was not of religion or faith but of “gender justice and gender equality” and appealed to all the parties to rise above political considerations and politics of votebank. “Women are seeing that justice will be done to them. Let us speak in one voice that we are for gender justice and gender equity and pass the Bill unanimously,” Shri Prasad said.
He said instances of instant Triple Talaq continue despite the Supreme Court ruling it as unconstitutional in August this year. The bill seeks to declare pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat (three pronouncements of talaq at one go) by Muslim husbands void and illegal in view of the Supreme Court verdict.
Shri Prasad said while Justice Rohington Nariman and U.U. Lalit held in their judgment in August that instant divorce was unconstitutional and the government should look at bringing a law, Justice Kurian Joseph had observed that what is a sin in Islamic laws cannot be legal.
The Bill makes the act of pronouncing Talaq-E-Biddat punishable offence. There is provision for subsistence allowance from the husband for the livelihood and daily supporting needs of the wife as also of the dependent children. The wife would also be entitled to the custody of minor children.