Polity Notes

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act 2019

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act 2019 is an act of parliament criminalizing the act of triple talaq. On 22nd Aug 2017 in Shayara Bano vs. Union of India, five judge constitution Bench of Supreme Court by 3:2 majority declared triple talaq which enables Muslim men to instantly divorce their wives to be unconstitutional and illegal and Supreme Court directed Parliament to make law against practice of triple talaq within six months.

The practice of triple Talaq also known as. Talaq-e-biddat was held irrevocable till Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 2017, thereby ruling that pronouncement of talaq three times by a muslim man to his wife does not end their marriage.

There are 59 Islamic Countries in the world and practice of triple talaq is illegal in 23 countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, Tunishia, Srilanka, Turkey, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan etc. Egypt was the first Islamic country to ban this practice (in 1929).

The Supreme Court bench was headed by CJI Justice J.S. Khehar. He and Justice Abdul Nazeer refused to strike down the practice of triple talaq and said that triple talaq is a fundamental right of a Muslim husband and cannot be struck down while Justice Kurien Joseph, Justice R.F. Nariman and Justice UU Lalit dissented and struck down the practice of triple talaq.

In Dec. 2017, citing the Supreme Court judgement, Union Govt introduced Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) bill 2017. The bill proposed to make triple talaq in any form – spoken, in writing or by electronic means, illegal & void. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Dec 28, 2017 but was stalled by the opposition in Rajya Sabha.

Then the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2018 was introduced in Lok Sabha with some changes by Minister of Law & Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad on 17/12/2018 & passed by Lok Sabha on 27/12/18 but again could not get the accent of Rajya Sabha.

Opposition Parties Objections:

1) 3 Years Jail Term for husband is too harsh and it should be reduced or omitted.

2) No clarity on who will provide maintenance to the wife once the husband is in the jail. How can husband provide maintenance to the wife if he is put behind the bars.

3) Whether such hard-line tactics would help bring a family together.

The proposed law makes triple talaq an offence with a jail term of up to three years and a fine for the husband, and makes the women entitled for maintenance.

The govt introduced three provisions to stop misuse of the law. Under these only a woman or her close relative can file a police case against her husband, A second amendment allows her to drop the case if the couple reaches a compromise. A third says, the magistrate can decide on the husband’s bail only after hearing the wife.

After making the desired changes as demanded by opposition parties, the Union Govt again introduced The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2018 in Lok Sabha on 21 June 2019. It was passed by Lok Sabha on. 25/7/2019 & by Rajya Sabha on 30/7/2019 and got the accent of President on 31/7/2019 & became The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act 2019. This act stands to be retrospectively effective from 19/9/2018 as this law was already implemented by Union Govt by issuing ordinance by the President twice w.e.f. 19/9/2018.

Provisions of this act:

Any pronouncement of triple talaq by a Muslim husband upon his wife by words either spoken or written or in electronic form or in any other manner whatsoever shall be void & illegal and shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend upto three years and shall also be liable to fine.

The Muslim women upon whom triple talaq is pronounced shall be entitled to receive from her husband such amount of subsistence allowance for her & dependent children as may be determined by the magistrate.

Muslim women shall be entitled to custody of her minor children in such manner as may be determined by magistrate.

An offence punishable under this act shall be cognizable. Wife or any person related to her by blood or marriage can file a police complaint.

An offence punishable under this act shall be compoundable at the instance of wife with the permission of the magistrate on such terms & conditions as he may determine.

Husband shall not be released on bail unless the magistrate after hearing the wife is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds granting bail to the husband.

Grounds for granting bail:

The offence may be compounded by the magistrate upon the request of the victim woman. Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings and settle the disputes. The terms & conditions of the compounding of the offence shall be determined by magistrate.

Allowance: Victim is entitled to seek subsistence allowance from her husband for herself & for her dependent children. The amount of allowance will be determined by magistrate.

Custody: Victim women is entitled to seek custody of her minor children. The manner of custody will be determined by magistrate.