August 04, 2019

On Triple Talaq Bill

Below we publish the statement of AIDWA issued on August 31

THE passing of the draconian Triple Talaq Bill which criminalises the mere pronouncement of triple talaq and makes it an offence punishable with upto three years of imprisonment is wrong and condemnable. As we had pointed out earlier, the bill converts a civil wrong, which all matters pertaining to family law are, into a criminal offence and is both ill conceived and legally flawed. It is communal in its intent as it specially seeks to target Muslim men who desert their wives and punish them. In an atmosphere where Muslims are the objects of various kinds of hate crimes, the bill is another weapon to demean and chastise Muslim men and show them as criminals. The Supreme Court in Shayara Bano’s case had already held that triple talaq is no longer a valid form of divorce. Thus the pronouncement of triple talaq is void and has no effect on the marital status of the parties or the rights and entitlements of the wife. Why then prescribe that the husband can be put into jail?  In any case the prescribed punishment can at best be termed disproportionate to the alleged offence. If along with the pronouncement of triple talaq, a wife complains of being subjected to violence she can register a case under S498A. However instead of strengthening this general law, there have been several moves to dilute it.

AIDWA also condemns the manner in which this draconian legislature was hurriedly passed in the Rajya Sabha. There were repeated demands that the bill be sent to a standing committee so that a useful and proper legislation could have been enacted after discussion and taking the views of all concerned parties. However, the government in its arrogance refused to do so and lost an opportunity to strengthen Muslim women’s rights in the family. Instead, they passed a bill with retrograde provisions, one of which merely stipulates a subsistence allowance from the husband and not a full maintenance and residence. The strategic and opportunistic walking out from the parliament by Nitish Kumar’s party, JD(U) and the AIADMK, who were supposed to be in opposition to the bill facilitated the bill being passed.

We demand that the president should not sign the bill in its present form.