Triple Talaq Bill: Women’s Rights Activists Fear Increase In Violence Against Muslims 

21 Dec, 2017 20:11 IST|Sakshi
<p>Activists and lawyers questioned why the government was bringing a bill without consulting the civil society and various stakeholders.</p>

New Delhi: The government intends to "fuel fear" in the Muslim community by criminalising pronouncement of instant triple talaq, women's rights activists said today, a day before a draft bill to criminalise the practice is likely to be tabled in Parliament.

In a press conference held on Thursday by Bebaak Collective, an intervener in support of the triple talaq plea by Shayara Bano in Supreme Court, activists and lawyers also questioned why the government was bringing a bill without consulting the civil society and various stakeholders.

According to the draft law, pronouncing instant triple talaq will be considered illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. It would be a non- bailable, cognisable offence. "At a time there have been incidents of violence against the Muslim community and no redressal available to them, this bill will give legal power to target the Muslims," said Sadhna Saxena from the Saheli Trust.

"The law is intended to fuel fear of the state by being able to walk into your home and incarcerate Muslim men," said Ayesha Kidwai, a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Another activist questioned the inherent contradiction in the draft law that renders pronouncement of instant triple talaq void and yet sends the man to jail. "When the marriage is not broken why send the man to jail. The law will make me a divorcee," said Shabina Mumtaz, a social worker from UP. She said that the government should instead offer protection to women unlawfully divorced by their husbands.

"If a woman or a man says I have divorced you is that a criminal offence under any law. It is not," senior advocate Indira Jaising, who was also the counsel for Bebaak Collective in the Supreme Court, said, questioning the need to criminalise pronouncing talaq thrice. The law also promises "subsistence allowance" as well as custody rights to a victim of triple talaq, which Jaising said was another contradiction within the law.

"The moment a divorce is declared null and void the woman has a status of a wife, and in her capacity as the wife she is entitled unrestricted access to the resources of the family and matrimonial home," Jaising said. Similarly, there was no question of custody of a child being granted to either party when the divorce has been invalidated, the senior lawyer said.

Lawyer Vrinda Grover also questioned the rationale behind sending a man to jail for issuing a divorce. "If the divorce is declared void what is the harm or injury caused to an individual, property or society for which a man is being put in jail. Afterall, for a criminal offence must cause harm or injury," Grover asked.

Activists demanded that the law should ensure that Muslim men cannot seek divorce outside court. They also want the government to address other practices such as polygamy and nikah halala, where a woman has to consummate her marriage with another man before she can return to her former husband.


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