President Ram Nath Kovind Approves Triple Talaq Ordinance
File image of President Ram Nath Kovind | (Photo Credits: PTI)

New Delhi, February 21: The ordinance making the practice of instant triple talaq a penal offence for Muslim men was issued for the third time on Thursday.

The Law Ministry said President Ram Nath Kovind has signed the The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance, 2019. On Tuesday, the cabinet gave its nod to re-issuing of the contentious triple talaq ordinance. Triple Talaq: Husband Divorces Wife in Bengaluru Through a Message From US, Woman Seeks Help From Sushma Swaraj.

A bill to ban the practice of talaq-e-biddat has been passed by Lok Sabha and is pending Rajya Sabha's nod where the government lacks numbers. The bill is set to lapse with the dissolution of the present Lok Sabha on June 3.

The ordinance has been reissued for the third time in less then a year. Opposition parties and some community leaders have claimed that jail term for a man for divorcing his wife is legally untenable. The government has asserted that it provides justice and equality to Muslim women.

To a question about the need for a government to clear several ordinances, including the one on triple talaq, weeks ahead of the general election, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said on Tuesday that discussions on these ordinances and bills had been "physically prevented" in Parliament.

"It (discussion) has not been prevented because numbers were against it... Indian democracy cannot be helpless. Extraordinary situations do call for such steps," he had said.

Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, divorcing through instant triple talaq will be illegal, void and would attract a jail term of three years for the husband.

The bill to convert the earlier ordinance, issued in September 2018, was cleared by Lok Sabha in December and is pending in Rajya Sabha. Since the bill could not get parliamentary approval, a fresh ordinance was issued.

Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial.

These amendments were cleared by the Cabinet on August 29, 2018. While the ordinance makes it a "non-bailable" offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail.

In a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself. A provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail "after hearing the wife", the government had said.