• Recently, the Apex Court stated that relatives of a 'husband' cannot be accused of an offence under Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act.
• In an initial analysis, bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud said while granting anticipatory bail to an accused made it clear that the appellant as the mother-in-law of the second respondent cannot be accused of the offence of pronouncement of triple talaq under the Act as the offence can only be committed by a Muslim man.
• A declaration of talaq by a Muslim husband upon his wife has been rendered void and illegal under Section 3 of the Act,
• A Muslim husband who pronounces talaq upon his wife, as specified in Section 3, is punishable with imprisonment for a term that may extend to three years , mentioned under Section 4.
• In this following case, the mother-in-law of the complainant was accused under the provisions of Section 498-A read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act.
• She approached the High Court seeking anticipatory bail which was denied. While considering the appeal.
• The provisions of Section 7(c) apply to the Muslim husband.
• The offence which is created by Section 3 is on the pronouncement of a talaq by a Muslim husband upon his wife.
• Section 3 renders the pronouncement of talaq void and illegal.
Section 4 makes the Act of the Muslim husband punishable with imprisonment.
• After initial analysis, it is clear that the appellant as the mother-in-law of the second respondent cannot be accused of the offence of pronouncement of triple talaq under the Act as the offence can only be committed by a Muslim man.
• The court further observed that an offence under the Act is by the Muslim man who has pronounced talaq upon his spouse, and not the appellant, who is the mother-in-law of the second respondent.
• The bench, while granting her pre-arrest bail observed that there is no bar on granting anticipatory bail for an offence committed under the Act, provided that the competent court must hear the married Muslim woman who has made the complaint before granting the anticipatory bail.
• It would be at the discretion of the court to grant ad-interim relief to the accused during the pendency of the anticipatory bail application, having issued notice to the married Muslim woman.
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