Legal Advice

Current legal status of ‘triple talaq’ in India

Question: I work as a fashion designer, and my husband is a doctor. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019, my business has been on a decline, leading to financial losses. Unfortunately, my husband has declined to provide me with financial support during this challenging time. Moreover, he pronounced 'talaq,' which was 'talaq ul biddat.' I would like to understand the current legal status of 'triple talaq' in India. As a woman facing financial difficulties, I am in a destitute situation and require assistance to support my family. Can Waqf provide financial aid to help me sustain my family?

Advise

Triple talaq, also known as “talaq-e-bid’ah” or instant triple talaq, was declared illegal in India through the enactment of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986, and more significantly, through the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019. The 2019 law criminalized the practice of triple talaq, making it a punishable offense.

Current legal status of triple talaq in India

  1. Triple talaq is prohibited and considered void: Pronouncing “talaq” thrice in one sitting, whether spoken, written, or through electronic means, is not legally recognized as a valid means of divorce.
  2. Criminal offense: The 2019 law made pronouncing triple talaq a criminal offense, and a husband can face imprisonment for up to three years for doing so.
  3. Protection for Muslim women: The legislation was enacted to protect the rights and interests of Muslim women, ensuring they are not subject to arbitrary and instant divorce, which often left them without financial support or legal remedies.
  4. Legal divorce process: Muslim men who wish to divorce their wives are required to follow the legal divorce procedure, which involves providing a written notice of the intended divorce to the wife and going through a legal process in court.

It’s important to note that these legal reforms were implemented to safeguard the rights of Muslim women and prevent the misuse of triple talaq. Therefore, pronouncing triple talaq in its traditional form does not have any legal standing in India and can lead to legal consequences for the husband.

Salient features of Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, commonly referred to as the “Triple Talaq” law, is a significant legislative development in India aimed at protecting the rights of Muslim women and prohibiting the practice of instant triple talaq. Here are the salient features of this Act:

  1. Prohibition of Triple Talaq: The Act declares the practice of instant triple talaq, whereby a Muslim husband can divorce his wife by uttering “talaq” thrice in one sitting, as illegal and void. This prohibition seeks to prevent arbitrary and instantaneous divorces that often left women in vulnerable positions.
  2. Criminal Offense: The Act makes pronouncing triple talaq a criminal offense, and a Muslim husband who pronounces instant triple talaq can face imprisonment for up to three years.
  3. Protection of Women’s Rights: The primary objective of the law is to protect the rights and interests of Muslim women, ensuring that they are not subject to instant divorce without legal recourse or financial support.
  4. Legal Divorce Procedure: Muslim men who wish to divorce their wives are required to follow the legally prescribed divorce procedure. This involves serving a written notice of the intended divorce to the wife and going through a formal legal process in court.
  5. Maintenance for Women: The Act empowers the courts to grant maintenance to the wife and her children while the divorce proceedings are ongoing.
  6. Custody of Children: The law also addresses the issue of custody of children after the divorce, allowing the wife to seek custody of her minor children.
  7. Non-Bailable Offense: The offense of pronouncing triple talaq is non-bailable, which means that the accused husband may not be granted bail immediately after arrest.
  8. Protection of Rights: The Act emphasizes the protection of the rights of Muslim women and the prevention of discrimination against them based on their marital status.
  9. Legal Recourse for Muslim Women: The legislation provides Muslim women with a legal framework to challenge instant triple talaq and seek remedies through the Indian legal system.
  10. Deterrent to Misuse: By criminalizing the practice and establishing legal consequences, the Act acts as a deterrent to the misuse of triple talaq.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, was enacted to address the challenges faced by Muslim women in India concerning instant triple talaq and to ensure that their rights and dignity are protected within the framework of Indian law. It has been a significant step in promoting gender justice and equality.

Shivendra Pratap Singh

Advocate

High Court Lucknow