Government defends bill on triple talaq; says must for gender justice

New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Thursday took up for consideration the contentious bill to make the practice of instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband.

Moving the bill for consideration, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice as despite an August 2017 Supreme Court verdict striking down the practice of instant triple talaq , women are being divorced by 'talaq-e-biddat'. He said, since January 2017, 574 such cases have been reported by the media.

Three ordinances have so been promulgated as a similar bill moved by the previous government could not get parliamentary nod. A fresh bill was introduced by the new government in June during the ongoing Parliament session. Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, divorcing through instant triple talaq will be illegal, void and would attract a jail term of three years for the husband. Prasad said to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial.

While the bill makes triple talaq a "non-bailable" offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail. In a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself. A provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail "after hearing the wife", the minister said.

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