India parliament backs bill criminalising instant divorce

2017-12-29 08:08

(iStock) (iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New Delhi - The Indian parliament's lower house on Thursday passed a bill proposing jail time for Muslim men who try to end their marriages through the controversial "instant divorce", months after it was banned by the Supreme Court for violating women's rights.

The government legislation was passed despite strong resistance by opposition parties, completing the first step towards making the practice a criminal act in India.

Instant divorce or "triple talaq" is when a Muslim man ends his marriage by simply saying "talaq" (which means "you are divorced" in Arabic) three times in succession.

In August, India's Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional and ordered the government to legislate against it.

The bill makes such divorce void and an offence carrying a fine and a jail term of up to three years.

It also proposes men financially support their divorced wives, who will get custody of any children.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Lok Sabha -- the Indian parliament's lower house -- that it was a "historic day" because the proposed law will end decades of injustice by granting gender equality to Muslim women.

He said the practice continues in India despite the Supreme Court ruling, forcing the government to quickly pass a law to "explicitly ban triple talaq".

But opposition politicians argued the proposed legislation overreaches by making instant divorce a criminal act, as matrimonial issues come under civil laws. They demanded a special committee review the bill.

But the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's right-wing Hindu nationalist government, which enjoys a majority in the house, brushed off the criticism.

The bill must now be passed by the upper house before becoming law.

A number of Muslim women had petitioned the Supreme Court, arguing that the unilateral power of Muslim men to end marriages instantly violates India's constitution by infringing on their fundamental right to equality.

Muslim women say they have been divorced over messaging apps like WhatsApp or in letters, leaving them without any legal remedy.

India has no uniform civil law for marriage, divorce and property. Its constitution allows followers of each faith to use their religious laws to govern such matters - including 180 million Muslims, the largest religious minority in the Hindu-dominated country.

Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won a thumping majority in 2014 national elections, has long pushed for a controversial uniform civil code to be enforced in India, which has a history of religious violence.

But Muslims have historically opposed such a move, claiming it will erode their religious identity and violate the constitution that protects right to religious freedom.

Read more on:    india  |  culture  |  religion

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.