In a landmark move, the Indian government on Wednesday approved a ban on triple talaq (instant divorce), a prevalent practice of instant divorce common among the country's minority Muslims, by passing an executive order.
Passed by the Lok Sabha in the last Winter session of the parliament, the Bill got stuck in the Rajya Sabha after facing protests from opposition parties on the criminal provisions in the draft law.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that almost 22 countries, including neighboring Pakistan and Bangladesh, have banned the practice and appealed to the opposition to approve the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill.
The Bill proposes a three-year jail term for a Muslim man who divorces his wife through Triple Talaq, in any form of spoken, written or by electronic means such as email, SMS, and WhatsApp.
"We not only welcomed the Supreme Court judgement quashing the instant triple talaq as a victory for the rights of Muslim women but it was Congress leaders, who represented the women petitioners before the Supreme Court", he said.
He said instant triple talaq was "an illegal, unconstitutional and inhuman practice" that was quashed by the Supreme Court.
"When triple talaq has been quashed, the next issue now is of providing justice to Muslim women".
Describing the practice as 'barbaric and inhuman, ' he said almost 22 countries have regulated triple talaq.
"In a secular country like India. gender justice was given the complete go-by". "A magistrate can grant bail only after the wife's consent", he added.
Blaming the Congress for the delay in passing the Bill, Ravi Shankar said he had approached the opposition party several times.
As far as other provisions are concerned, the mother/victim wife must get custody of the minor child and the mother is entitled to a maintenance suitably determined by the magistrate for herself and the child.
The proposed law also addresses "nikah halala", which requires the divorced woman to marry someone else and consummate the marriage if she wants to remarry her husband. The Bill is yet to be introduced in the upper House of the Parliament. Citing the lack of "consensus" in the House, Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu, on the last day of the Monsoon session, deferred the Bill till the Winter Session .
The Law Minister used the opportunity to attack the Congress, saying it is not supporting the bill pending in Rajya Sabha under "vote bank pressures". "Our issue is with the criminalisation aspect".
Instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat is a practice that was challenged in the court.