The government is looking to make triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a criminal offence among other changes in the existing law in a bid to make amendments to The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 or more commonly known as the Shah Bano Act, according to The Indian Express report. Officials said that making amendments to The Muslim Women Act was discussed in a meeting attended by Group of Ministers (GoM) who will take the final decision to draft a law to make triple talaq a criminal offence. Other than drafting a ‘new preamble’ for the Shah Bano Act, the government is considering to make changes to Section 125 Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPc) (order for maintenance of making wives, children and parents) to provide safety for women who are abandoned via instant triple talaq.
The meeting that took place last week was headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh where External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj suggested changes to the Act whereas Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad broached suggestions to alter provisions of the CrPc and Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Supreme Court in August had carried out a landmark verdict by banning the practice of instant talaq.
The court had then suggested the government to draft a new but the government virtually ruled out framing of a new law and indicated that existing laws including the law dealing with domestic violence were sufficient. On August 22, the court had ruled 3-2 against triple talaq as three of the five judges had called the practice un-Islamic and ‘arbitrary’ and disagreed with the view that the law was an integral part of Muslim religious practices.
But, even after the ‘historic’ ruling several cases of illegal triple talaq has surfaced where an Indian man staying in Dubai had given talaq to his wife back in Kerala over Whatsapp message. The move to make amendments to Shah Bano Act enacted by Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government will help shed light for the ruling BJP government to take ahead the discussions on Uniform Civil Code.
However, once the law is passed, the Muslim clergies will have no role in talaq cases and women can move court or approach the police to lodge complaints. The ministerial committee also felt that law regarding Dowry Act and Domestic Violence Act was misused and reforms to the law are needed.