India’s President, Ram Nath Kovind, gave assent Thursday to a bill criminalizing the Muslim personal law practice of “instant divorce.”
The Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India’s parliament, approved the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act on Tuesday. It was passed by the lower house of parliament (Lok Sabha) on July 25.
The practice is known as “triple talaq,” under which a Muslim man can divorce by uttering the word “talaq,” meaning divorce in Arabic, thrice in his wife’s presence. The statute makes declarations of instant divorce, including in written or electronic form, to be not enforceable in law and a criminal offense. Any person convicted of the offense can face up to three years imprisonment with a fine. Section 7(a) of the legislation makes the offense “cognizable,” which means a person accused may face arrest without a warrant. Section 7(c) states, “no person accused of an offense punishable under this Act shall be released on bail unless the Magistrate, on an application filed by the accused and after hearing the married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail to such person.”
Section 5 stipulates that the husband will provide an allowance for “a married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced” and her dependent children. Section 6 gives custody of minor children to the woman.