Withdraw Ordinance Criminalising Instant Triple Talaq

We are deeply concerned and disturbed at the Central Government’s move to introduce an Ordinance criminalising Instant Triple Talaq. 

Why has the Government chosen to bypass a serious debate in Parliament and introduce an ordinance instead? 

Desertion following arbitrary and unilateral divorce is a fate that women of all communities in India face - it is not a problem unique to Muslim women. In the case of women of non-Muslim communities, there are civil remedies available in such situations. Why, then, is the Ordinance seeking to criminalise arbitrary and unilateral divorce for Muslim men alone? 
If instant triple talaq amounts to domestic violence, Muslim women like women of other communities already have the options of civil remedies under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and criminal remedies under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code. What then is the need for a separate ordinance and law criminalising instant triple talaq?
A Hindu husband may simply abandon or desert his wife and refuse to live with her. For instance, Ms Jasodaben continues in vain to seek recognition from her husband, Prime Minister Narenda Modi who deserted her 45 years ago. That their separation is unilateral on part of Mr Modi is proved by the fact that Ms Jasodaben has repeatedly expressed the wish to join her husband and live with him - a wish which he has publicly ignored. For millions of Hindu women like Ms Jasodaben, the situation is especially tough because the husband is able to wash his hands off any responsibilities to the marriage without even bothering to try to obtain a divorce, valid or otherwise. Is this any less arbitrary than a Muslim man who abandons his wife after unilaterally uttering the words ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’? The BJP claims to demand ‘Uniform Civil Code’ - but by introducing this Ordinance it is clear that it unwilling to uniformly criminalise arbitrary and unilateral divorce and desertion for all communities: it is singling out Muslim men alone for such a  criminal law. 

The Supreme Court judgement has already invalidated instant triple talaq and held it to be unconstitutional. We are of the opinion that based on this judgement, any religious or social institution that abets instant triple talaq should lose their registration: this would serve as an effective deterrent to groups seeking to legitimise instant triple talaq. Women who face instant triple talaq should be offered institutional legal as well as monetary aid and social support from the State, to help them seek justice. In fact, women of all communities who are at the receiving end of arbitrary and unilateral desertion and divorce should be given far greater legal and social support. 
We appeal to Parliamentarians to insist that the Ordinance criminalising instant triple talaq be withdrawn, and the Bill debated in Parliament and discussed with a variety of civil society groups before being passed.  

 Kavita Krishnan 

Secretary, AIPWA


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