India: Cabinet OKs bill making 'instant divorce' illegal

By Susan McFarland  |  Dec. 15, 2017 at 8:46 AM
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Dec. 15 (UPI) -- India's Union Cabinet of Ministers approved a bill that proposes to make the "triple talaq" a criminal offense, sending it to get parliament clearance during the government's winter session that began Friday.

The Supreme Court paved the way for the proposed bill after it ruled in August that it was unconstitutional to allow men invoke triple talaq -- the practice of repeating the word "talaq," or "divorce," three times to annul one's marriage. The new law would make it a non-bailable crime that would carry a three-year jail term. The law would allow victims of instant divorce the ability to seek the custody of her minor children and receive maintenance from her husband after filing a complaint to police.

Judges say the practice of Muslim men uttering "talaq" three times for an instant divorce is derogatory and discriminatory against women, violates women's right to equality and leaves them destitute. Despite the August ruling, the practice still continues and is often times delivered electronically via email or applications such as Skype or WhatsApp.

The West Bengal subcommittee of the Muslim Personal Law Board is urging the government to consult with Islamic scholars about the proposed bill, which they say would otherwise create discord. The Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and the Trinamool Congress oppose the ban, saying reform should not come from national legal action.

Other countries with large Muslim populations, including Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, have already banned triple talaq.

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