India is all set to criminalise triple talaq, a practice of instant divorce common among the country’s minority Muslims, with a three-year jail term.
Officials said the Indian government was likely to bring in a legislation in the winter session of Parliament, which would not only make triple talaq illegal and void, but also entail a jail term of three years for the Muslim husband.
“Under the draft law, triple talaq in any form — spoken, written or by electronic means like email or SMSes will be illegal. Besides, giving instant talaq will be a non-bailable and cognizable offense,” a senior official said Saturday.
“The idea is to empower Muslim women and save them and their children. The law, if passed by the Parliament, will be a deterrent for Muslim men to divorce their wives simply,” he added.
The draft law has been prepared by an inter-ministerial group, headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The other group members included Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Though Talaq-e-biddat (instant divorce) has no mention in Sharia Islamic law or the Koran, the practice has existed for decades that allows a man to divorce his wife just by uttering the word “talaq” thrice.
Most Islamic countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned triple talaq, but the custom has continued in India, which actually does not have a uniform set of laws on marriage and divorce that apply to every citizen.
Though India’s Supreme Court struck down the practice as “illegal” in a landmark judgment on Aug. 22 this year, the practice is still prevalent in India.
Campaigners have hailed the government’s latest proposed move.
“Over the years thousands of women, especially those from poor families, have been discarded by their husbands in this manner. Many women have been rendered destitute or forced to return to their parental homes,” said Heena Khan, a Muslim activist.
“First the Supreme Court order came as a victory for Muslim women. And now if the government frames a law, it will be the ultimate step to prevent men from abandoning their wives and ruining their lives,” she added.
Hindu couples in India go through a separation period to explore chances of reconciliation before being granted divorce by a family court.