The Union cabinet on Wednesday cleared a fresh bill to ban the practice of instant triple talaq, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
The bill will be introduced in the forth-coming budget session of Parliament which begins on Monday to replace an ordinance issued in February by the previous BJP-led NDA government.
With the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month, the previous bill, which had passed the muster in the Lower House but got stuck in the Upper House, has lapsed.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, which made the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) a penal offence, had faced objections from the opposition parties which claimed that jail term for a man divorcing his wife was legally untenable.
Javadekar said the proposed legislation is based on gender equality and is part of the government’s philosophy of ‘SabkaSaath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’ .
The new bill will be a copy of the ordinance in force and the minister hoped that it will be passed “unanimously” by Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks numbers.
Bills that are introduced in Rajya Sabha but remain pending there do not lapse with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
However, bills passed by the Lok Sabha and pending in Rajya Sabha lapse with the dissolution of the Lower House.
The government had promulgated the ordinance on triple talaq twice – in September 2018 and in February 2019-as the contentious bill remained pending in Rajya Sabha, though it was passed by the Lok Sabha.
Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, divorcing through instant triple talaq is illegal, void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision for bail for the accused during 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 was added to allow the magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”, the government had said.
In the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, the new government plans to convert 10 ordinances, including the one to ban the practice of instant triple talaq, into laws.
The ordinances were issued in February-March this year by the previous government as those could not be converted into Acts of Parliament in the last session of the 16th Lok Sabha.
Since the Narendra Modi government returned to power in the recently held elections, it has decided to give a fresh push to these proposed laws in the newly-constituted Lok Sabha.
These ordinances will have to be made into laws within 45 days of the beginning of the session, else they will lapse.