The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 was passed in Lok Sabha today. The Bill was introduced on December 17, 2018, and replaces an Ordinance currently in force. A Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017. The 2017 Bill is listed for withdrawal.

You can read the comparison between the 2017 and 2018 Bill here.

Some key highlights:

  1. The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal.
  2. The Bill makes declaration of talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine.
  3. The offence will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by: (i) the married woman (against whom Triple Talaq has been declared), or (ii) any person related to her by blood or marriage. 
  4. The Magistrate may grant bail to the accused after hearing the woman (against whom Triple Talaq has been pronounced), and if he is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail.
  5. The offence may be compounded by the Magistrate upon the request of the woman (against whom Triple Talaq has been declared). Compounding refers to the procedure where the two sides agree to stop legal proceedings, and settle the dispute. 

During the discussion, several members questioned the criminalisation of a civil matter. Others questioned whether this Bill had the capacity to empower Muslim women and asked that the Bill be referred to a Parliamentary committee for further scrutiny.

Rajya Sabha remained adjourned for most of the day.