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

  • The Act is divided into three chapters and comprises eight sections.
  • Chapter I talks about the extent of this Act and comprises Section 1 and Section 2.
  • Chapter II speaks of the declaration of Talaq by the Muslim husband to be void and illegal and consists of section 3 and section 4.
  • Chapter III deals with the protection of the rights of married Muslim women. It consists of sections 5, section 6, and section 7.


History of the Legislation

  • The Supreme Court on 22 August 2017, in the case of Shayara Bano V. Union of India and other related matters, in a majority judgment of 3:2, set aside the practice of talaq-e-biddat (three pronouncements of talaq, at the same time) practiced by some Muslim husband to divorce their wives.
  • This judgment gave a boost to liberate Indian Muslim women from the age-old practice of the capricious and whimsical method of divorce, by some Muslim men, leaving no room for reconciliation.
  • The petitioner in the case challenged, inter alia, talaq-e-biddat on the ground that the said practice is discriminatory and against the dignity of women. The judgment vindicated the position taken by the Government that talaq-e-biddat is against constitutional morality, the dignity of women, and the principles of gender equality, as also against gender equity guaranteed under the Constitution.
  • Despite the Supreme Court setting aside talaq-e-biddat, there were reports of divorce by way of talaq-e-biddat from different parts of the country. It could be seen that setting aside talaq-e-biddat by the Supreme Court did not work as any deterrent in bringing down the number of divorces by this practice among certain Muslims.
  • It was then, felt that there is a need for the State to take any action and give effect to the order of the Supreme Court and to redress the grievances of victims of illegal divorce.
  • Therefore, to protect the rights of married Muslim women who are being divorced by triple talaq, a Bill, namely, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, was introduced, and passed by, the Lok Sabha on the 28th December 2017 and was pending in Rajya Sabha.
  • As the Bill was pending for consideration in Rajya Sabha and the practice of divorce by triple talaq (i.e., talaq-e-biddat) was continuing, there was an urgent need to take immediate action to prevent such practice by making stringent provisions in the law.
  • Since both Houses of Parliament were not in session and circumstances existed which render it necessary for the President to take immediate action in the matter, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018, with some new changes was promulgated on the 19th September 2018.
  • To replace the said Ordinance, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 was introduced in Lok Sabha on the 17th December 2018 and was passed by that House on the 27th December 2018. However, the Bill could not be taken up for consideration in Rajya Sabha and both Houses were adjourned.
  • As both Houses of Parliament were again not in session and the practice of divorce by triple talaq (i.e. talaq-e-biddat) was continuing, to give continued effect to the provisions of the aforesaid Ordinance, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019 was promulgated on the 12th January 2019.
  • Subsequently, to replace the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, necessary official amendments to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 were moved in Rajya Sabha. However, the Bill could not be taken up for consideration in Rajya Sabha and both Houses were adjourned.
  • Since both the Houses of Parliament was not in session, to give continued effect to the provisions of the aforesaid Ordinance, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance, 2019 was promulgated on the 21st February 2019.
  • Thereafter, the sixteenth Lok Sabha was dissolved on the 25th May 2019 and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 pending in Rajya Sabha lapsed.
  • Accordingly, to replace the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance, 2019, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the parliament.
  • The Bill was finally passed by both the houses and received the assent of the president and it became an act on 31st July 2019.


Talaq under this Act

Chapter II of the Act deals with the Talaq with the heading- Declaration of Talaq to be void and illegal.

  • Section 3 of this Act says, that, any pronouncement of talaq by words either spoken or written or in electronic form or any other manner by a Muslim husband upon his wife should be void and illegal.
  • Section 4 of this Act talks about punishment for pronouncement of talaq.

It says any husband who pronounces talaq upon his wife as it is referred to in section 3 of this act then he will be punished for a period with imprisonment which may extend to three years and will also be liable for a fine.


Protection of Rights under this Act

Chapter III of this Act talks about the Protection of Rights of Married Muslim Women

  • Section 5 of the Act talks about the Subsistence allowance for the married Muslim women on whom talaq is pronounced.

It says, that a married Muslim woman who is divorced (talaq) by her husband is entitled to get an amount of subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and her dependent children as may be determined by the Magistrate.

  • Section 6 of the Act speaks of the Custody of the Minor children

This section says that in case the divorced is pronounced by the husband then the married Muslim woman shall be entitled to have the right to have custody of her minor children, in such manner as may be determined by the Magistrate.

  • Section 7 of the Act, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, elucidates that:

a) It says that if any information related to an offense punishable under this act is given to the officer-in-charge of the police station by the married Muslim woman upon whom the talaq is pronounced or any person related to her by blood or marriage, then such offense shall be considered as a cognizable offense.

b) It says that an offense punishable under this act shall be considered as a compoundable offense at the instance of the married Muslim women upon whom talaq is pronounced with the permission of the Magistrate on the terms and conditions that he may determine.

c) This section says that if a person is accused of an offense under this Act, then he shall not be released on bail unless the magistrate after hearing, the married Muslim woman upon whom talaq is pronounced, is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for granting bail to the accused on an application filed by the accused.

 

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