Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, issued on Saturday, divorcing through instant triple talaq will be illegal void and would attract a jail term of three years to the husband.
A Bill to convert the earlier ordinance was issued in September, 2018 which was cleared by Lok Sabha in December but was pending in Rajya Sabha. Since the Bill could not get the parliamentary approval, the fresh ordinance was issued. The Union Cabinet had last week approved reissuance of the ordinance.
Seeking 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.
These amendments were cleared by the Cabinet on August 29, 2018. While the ordinance makes it 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 government had said.
The magistrate would ensure that the bail is granted only after the husband agrees to grant compensation to the wife as provided in the bill. The police would lodge an FIR only if approached by the victim (wife), her blood relations or people who become her relatives by virtue of her marriage. Neighbours and others cannot lodge a complaint under the ordinance. The offence of instant triple talaq will be “compoundable”.
A magistrate can use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and his wife. This will happen only when the wife approaches the court. Under a compoundable offence, both parties have the liberty of withdrawing the case. The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ and it would give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for her and minor children.
A woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.