Triple talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha today after Cabinet okays provision for bail
The much-debated Triple Talaq Bill will be tabled in Rajya Sabha on Friday a day after Union Cabinet approved amendments to the bill making it possible for a magistrate to grant bail to the accused.
On Thursday, the Cabinet proposed three changes in the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, 2017. First, only the victim, a blood relation or relation by marriage are allowed to lodge FIR in the case; second, the case can be dropped if husband and wife agree to settle their differences; and third, a magistrate can grant bail to men found guilty of giving instant triple talaq to their wives. However, the offence still remains non-bailable.
If the amended bill is passed in the upper house, it will have to go back to Lok Sabha for approval of the amendments.
On December 29, the Lok Sabha passed the bill which seeks to make instant triple talaq a criminal offence, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government tabled it in the lower house.
Senior government officials, who did not want to be named, said on Thursday the amendments notwithstanding, giving instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ will continue to be illegal and void, and will attract a jail term of three years.
Also, instant triple talaq will continue to be a non-bailable offence, they added. The amendments will only allow the accused to approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail. The magistrate would, however, ensure that bail is granted only after the husband agrees to grant compensation to the wife, as provided in the bill. The quantum of compensation will be decided by the magistrate, as per the bill.
“The provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail after hearing the wife,” said Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad during a press briefing.
This was one of the demands of the Opposition.
Under a non-bailable law, bail cannot be granted by the police at the police station itself.
The proposed law will be applicable on instant triple talaq, or ‘talaq-e-biddat’, and will give the victim the power to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children. The law will also allow the woman to seek the custody of her minor children, the final call on which will be taken by the magistrate.
Prasad said the cabinet has approved three amendments to the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage bill. The bill has already been cleared by the Lok Sabha during the winter session in December and is pending the approval of the Rajya Sabha.
Friday is the last day of the ongoing monsoon session. Though Fridays are reserved for talking up private members bill, the Rajya Sabha can take up the bill. Once Rajya Sabha clears it, the bill will be sent to Lok Sabha again for approval.
“There were fears and we have plugged the holes ... nothing has been done under pressure,” Prasad said.
To check misuse, another amendment has been added that will ensure that the police would lodge FIR only if approached by the victim (wife), her blood relations or people who become her relatives by virtue of marriage. “This would settle fears that even a neighbour can file FIR as is the cases in any cognizable offence. This would check misuse,” the minister added.
The third amendment makes the offence of instant triple talaq “compoundable”. Now, a magistrate can use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and wife. Under a compoundable offence, both parties have the liberty of withdrawing the case.
“Under the Dowry Act, Muslims and others go to jail ... they are also jailed under the Domestic Violence Act ...why oppose jail for triple talaq,” he said.