By a three-two majority, the SC has already declared it as illegal and unenforceable because it was contrary to Islamic tenets and also declared that the husband’s marital obligations will remain the same in spite of divorce
The centre’s proposal to make instant temple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) an offence punishable with three year imprisonment and a fine is an unnecessary attempt to convert a civil wrong into a criminal act.
The purposed Muslim women (protection of Right on Marriage) Bill, 2017 appears to have provisions for maintenance to the wife and children and also seeks to pursue the women’s entitlement to custody of her children.
There have been 66 cases of its use after the Supreme Court verdict which only underscores the need for protecting women against desertion and abandonment. But it is still not justified to send someone to jail. Also, the fine amount could be awarded to the wife as a maintenance allowance.
Parliament must ensure protection to Muslim women against its use rather than criminalizing it because it does not have any deterrent effect on its practice by itself.
Safeguards already present
All-India Majlis-e-Hehadul-Muslimeen president in a letter to Union law Minister there is no need for a fresh criminal provision when there are existing laws under section 498A of IPC for the protection of women against domestic violence.
This criminalization may affect the husband’s legal obligation and the payment of maintenance.
Conclusion / Suggestion
The centre would do well to reconsider its draft and limit its scope to providing relief to women, instead of creating a new offence out of a civil matter.