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International - September 20, 2018

India criminalises instant divorce

An Indian bride.

In India, Muslim men who use instant divorce will face jail term up to three years, according to an executive order.

India’s government on Wednesday decided to make the practice of instant triple talaq (divorce) a punishable offence through an executive order after the draft law failed to pass in parliament in August.

Under the proposed law, Muslim men who end their marriage using instant divorce, or talaq-e-biddat, will now face a jail term of up to three years and a fine.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, introduced by the Narendra Modi government in parliament last year, could not be passed due to lack of consensus.

Opposition parties had criticised some of the stringent provisions of the draft law, including non-bailable arrest.

The country’s Supreme Court last year banned “triple talaq” practised by some in the Muslim community, saying it was “unconstitutional”.

On Wednesday, India’s Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad told a news conference that the government was forced to issue the order because the practice persisted despite the top court decision last year.

Under the new government order, police will take cognisance of an offence if a victim of this practice or her blood relative file a case, the minister said. A magistrate can grant bail to the accused in this case only after hearing the wife, he added.

“This is a bad decision. They could not pass it in parliament, now they have brought an executive order. The Supreme Court has already said it is invalid. So if something is invalid already, how can it be a crime?” Agnes asked.

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