What’s in the news?
- Five years after the Supreme Court invalidated instant triple talaq in 2017, several women petitioners continue to live a life of half-divorcees.
- Technically still married, practically divorced, they enjoy no conjugal rights nor receive any regular maintenance from the estranged husbands.
- Practically abandoned, the women cannot remarry in the absence of a legally valid divorce. After the verdict, none of the men were visited by law enforcement bodies and told to take back their wives.
- Further, no arrests could be made for giving instant triple talaq as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 came into force long after pronouncement of instant talaq.
Provisions of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019
- Offence and penalty: The Act makes declaration of talaq-e-biddat a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine. (A cognizable offence is one for which a police officer may arrest an accused person without warrant)
- Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce.
- The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by:
- the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared),
- or any person related to her by blood or marriage.
- The Act provides that the Magistrate may grant bail to the accused. The bail may be granted only after hearing the woman (against whom talaq has been pronounced), and if the Magistrate is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
- The offence may be compounded (i.e. the parties may arrive at a compromise) by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom talaq has been declared).
- Allowance: A Muslim woman against whom talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children. The amount of the allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.
- Custody: A Muslim woman against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek custody of her minor children.