The Union Cabinet introduced three amendments to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill.
According to sources, the government has watered down the triple talaq bill as compared to the one passed by the Lok Sabha in December last year.
As per the new amendment, a crime of triple talaq (FIR) will be cognizable only if the victim or her blood relatives or someone associated with the marriage files the complaint. A complaint filed by an agency or outside entity will not be cognizable. In the earlier version, any person could have initiated criminal proceedings against a Muslim man, who pronounces instant triple talaq on his wife.
As per the second amendment, the crime remains non-bailable but a magistrate can grant bail after hearing the victim. Provision of bail was one of the demands of the opposition parties.
The third amendment makes the crime compoundable. If friends seek reconciliation, the magistrate can compound offence.
A woman can also seek the custody of her minor children and seek subsistence allowance from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.
The triple talaq bill passed by Lok Sabha in Decemeber made the practice a criminal offence for which a police officer was empowered to arrest an accused without warrant.
The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’, attracting a jail term of three years for the guilty.
Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad said in 2017, a total of 389 cases of instant triple talaq were reported. Between January and August last year, 229 cases were reported. “This shows that the bill is required even after the Supreme Court struck down triple talaq as illegal.”
Even after the bill was introduced, 160 cases were reported.
Urging Congress leader Sonia Gandhi to support the bill, Prasad said the Bill should not be opposed by Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee as it seeks to achieve gender equality.
Friday is the last day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament and the government could introduce amendments in Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks number. If the bill is cleared by the upper house, it will have to go back to Lok Sabha for approval of the amendments.