India’s nationalist government initiates law that could jail Muslim men for triple talaq
New Delhi (OIC-UNA) – India’s lower house of parliament (Lok Sabha) passed a bill on Thursday aimed at prosecuting Muslim men who divorce their wives through the triple talaq, or instant divorce.
The bill now moves to Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, where it is likely to be approved. In August, the country’s Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional a law which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word talaq, which means divorce in Arabic, three times, Reuters reported. Muslim women had petitioned the court, arguing the practice of husbands divorcing them through triple talaq not only violated their rights but left many women destitute. Only a law can explicitly ban triple talaq, we have to enforce legal procedures to provide for allowances and protect custody of children, said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The bill would make the practice a non-bailable offence with a possible three-year jail term. The 180-million Muslims are the biggest religious minority in Hindu-majority India and relations between the communities have sometimes been strained since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a 2014 election. India, with a population of 1.25 billion, is one of the few countries where the practice of instant divorce has survived in law, and while some Muslim groups have said it is wrong, they believe it should be reviewed by the community itself.
Members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board said the government had no right to outlaw instant triple talaq, as it was directly interfering with Muslim personal law.
India’s civil codes are designed to protect the independence of religious communities. Unlike most Hindu civil laws, which have been codified and reformed, Muslim personal laws have largely been left untouched. Zakia Soman, founder of a Muslim women’s group, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, said that once triple talaq became a legal offence, victims could approach the police and the legal system to initiate action against offenders.
Source: International Islamic News Agency