Triple Talaq Ordinance – What it means for Muslim Marriages

On 19th September, 2018, The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018 (commonly known as the Triple Talaq Ordinance) was enforced after being signed by the President. Earlier, the Supreme Court, in the case of Shayara Bano vs. Union of India (MANU/SC/1031/2017), had declared Triple Talaq or Talak-ul-Biddat to be illegal. Further, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017 and is currently pending in Rajya Sabha.

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 Government opined that this practice had not been curbed despite the SC’s judgment and, hence, the present Ordinance was promulgated to deal with this issue.

The Ordinance makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal. For the purpose of this Ordinance, talaq denotes talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce.

Let us take a look at the key features of this Ordinance and its implications –

Pronouncement of Talaq to be an Offence – Declaring of talaq by a Muslim husband to his wife is now a cognizable[1] offence, attracting up to three years of imprisonment with a fine. Arrest can be made in this regard if the information has been provided by:

  • the married woman (against whom talaq has been declared), or
  • any person related to her by blood or marriage.

However, this offence is bailable in nature provided that the Magistrate has heard the aggrieved woman and is satisfied of the existence of reasonable grounds to grant such bail.

This offence has also been made compoundable. This means that if the parties so desire, they can settle the dispute and stop the legal proceedings by mutual agreement. The terms of settlement shall, however, be decided by the presiding Magistrate.

Provision of Subsistence Allowance:  A Muslim woman, against whom such talaq has been declared, is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for the upkeep of her dependent children.  The amount of this allowance will be determined by the Magistrate.

Custody of Children:  As per this Ordinance, any Muslim woman against whom such talaq has been declared can seek custody of minor children. The question of custody and the manner of its execution shall be determined by the Magistrate.

The abolishment of Triple Talaq has sparked a huge debate with vehement points and counter points being raised from both ends of the spectrum. However, till the fate of the Bill remains undecided in the Parliament, the Triple Talaq Ordinance will remain the law of the land unless struck down by the Supreme Court.

[1] In case of cognizable offences, the police does not require a warrant before making arrests.

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