In a historic judgement in August, the Supreme Court condemned the age-old practice of talaq-e-biddat or triple talaq. The practice allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying talaq three times in quick succession. But the government wants to take this a step further, as it is planning to set a legislation that will make the practice a criminal offence. A Bill on this is expected to be presented in the Parliament’s winter session.
On Tuesday, a senior government functionary told, “The government is contemplating to make talaq-e-biddat a criminal offence. A very serious consideration is being given by the government,” The Indian Express reported. The official also said that many high profile ministers are a part of a committee which will tune the legislation. The committee enlists Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.
In a pathbreaking 3-2 verdict on August 22, three out of five judges on a Constitution Bench — Justices Rohinton F Nariman, Uday U Lalit and Kurian Joseph — held the practice of triple talaq as un-Islamic and “arbitrary.” They disagreed with the view that triple talaq was an integral part of religious practice. The other two judges on the panel – Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and Justice S Abdul Nazeer – said that the practice came under Muslim personal law. The two also said that the practice was protected by the constitution itself and was beyond the scope of judicial scrutiny. However, they highlighted that the Parliament should consider an “appropriate” law to deal with the issue of talaq-e-biddat.
The source also said that the practice is still continuing within Muslims despite the Supreme Court judgment. But once it becomes a criminal offence practice of triple talaq is likely to go down. Another source in the government said, “Numerous cases of divorces by talaq-e-biddat are happening even after the Supreme Court verdict. This may be happening because of lack of knowledge about the decision of the apex court. It could also be because of lack of deterrent punishment for the act of talaq-e-biddat.”
“In spite of advisories to members of the community against this archaic practice, there seems to be no decline in the practice of divorce via talaq-e-biddat. In a recent incident of talaq-e-biddat, it has been reported that an AMU professor divorced his wife through WhatsApp and SMS and that the wife approached police,” the source said.