By Prarthana Mitra
To properly enforce the Triple Talaq Bill passed by the Supreme Court last year, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday passed an ordinance making it a punishable offence. After a cabinet meeting, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the centre was moved to take this step as instant triple talaq still continues unabated, despite the apex court ruling it as illegal and unconstitutional in August 2017.
Lok Sabha had passed a bill in December 2017 to outlaw the practise prevalent in Muslim communities for centuries. But the bill was opposed by the opposition in Rajya Sabha. At a press conference after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Prasad held the Congress responsible for procrastinating with regulating triple talaq when 22 nations around the world have already banned it, and for impeding the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill. Accusing the Congress of ignoring gender inequality, the Union Minister appealed to Sonia Gandhi to rise above vote bank politics and help pass the triple talaq legislation in the interest of women, calling the practice barbaric and inhuman
Amendments introduced to the Muslim Women Protection bill have been introduced to dilute the bill. The revised draft of the bill which was approved in an earlier cabinet meeting will ensure that the offence remains non-bailable by the police. Only a magistrate is given the power to grant bail to the accused. According to the amendment, the victim or her relatives (blood relations or in-laws) alone can lodge an FIR. The revised draft also aims to make the offence compoundable or resolvable at court. A magistrate can use their power to solve the dispute between the spouses amicably, who can then withdraw the case.
The government had previously stated it would go take the ordinance route if the bill failed to pass Rajya Sabha. This move could bring about real upliftment in the conditions of married Muslim women, and protection from the draconian law.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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