Indian parliament clears bill to criminalise Islamic instant divorce

31.07.2019

The Indian parliament on Tuesday approved a legislation criminalising the controversial practice of instant divorce, which is practiced by some members of the Muslim community.

The move came after the Supreme Court in 2017 ruled that the practice of "triple talaq" was unconstitutional and violated women's fundamental rights.

India was one of the few countries where a Muslim man could still divorce his wife instantly by saying the word "talaq" - "divorce" in Arabic - three times in quick succession.

The upper house of parliament, known as the Rajya Sabha, passed the legislation - known as the "Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill" - making the practice punishable with up to three years in jail. It was already approved by the powerful lower house, known as the Lok Sabha, last week.

It will become law once President Ram Nath Kovind approves it.

"Today is a historic day for India. Today, both houses of parliament have given justice to daughters and sisters of our Muslim community," federal law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters.

More than 20 Muslim countries including Pakistan and Malaysia had already banned the practice, Prasad said.

Critics of the practice say it leaves women destitute and robs them of their basic rights.

Opposition parties had objected to the bill, saying the proposed law could be misused to harass Muslims - a vulnerable minority in India - and that it should be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.    (dpa)

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