Kerala-based Sunni Muslim group moves Supreme Court against triple talaq ordinance, calls it ‘arbitrary’

The Samastha Kerala Jam’eyyath ul-Ulama, a religious organisation of Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics, filed a petition in Supreme Court on Tuesday against the triple talaq ordinance.

In its plea, the Kerala-based outfit challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance and said that the ordinance is arbitrary.

On 19 September, the Union Cabinet approved the ordinance to ban the practice of instant triple talaq. President Ram Nath Kovind later signed the ordinance.

The ordinance has made the practice of giving instant triple talaq illegal and void, and the offender will attract a jail term of three years.

In a bid to allay fears that the 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 29 August.

While the law makes instant triple talaq 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.

One provision also allows the magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”. Sources told PTI that the magistrate would ensure that bail is granted only after the husband agrees to grant compensation to the wife as provided in the bill. The quantum of compensation will be decided by the magistrate, as per the bill.

The police would lodge an FIR only if approached by the victim (wife), her immediate family members, or people who become her relatives by virtue of her marriage. Neighbours and others cannot lodge a complaint under the proposed law.

The offence of instant triple talaq is “compoundable”. Now, a magistrate can use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and his wife. This will happen only when the wife approaches the court. Under a compoundable offence, both parties have the liberty of withdrawing the case.

The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ and it would give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children.

A woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.

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