The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, that makes instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat a criminal offence, with a jail term of up to three years with a fine.

The bill, which seeks to replace an ordinance promulgated in September prohibiting divorce by pronouncing “talaq” by the husband, was passed after over four-hour discussion that saw some heated exchanges between the opposition and treasury benches.

Before a vote on the bill, the Congress and the AIADMK staged a walkout over the government not accepting their demand to refer it to a joint select committee of the Parliament.

The bill makes instant triple talaq a cognizable offence, attracting up to three years’ imprisonment with a fine. The offence will be cognizable if information relating to the offence is given by the married woman against whom talaq has been pronounced or any person related to her by blood or marriage.

The proposed law would be applicable to the entire country, except in Jammu and Kashmir.

The triple talaq bill was on the top of the government’s agenda as the winter session of Parliament commenced on December 11. The Modi government wanted to get the Parliament’s nod on the bill before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

As the government could not pass the bill in Rajya Sabha in the last monsoon session, it had issued an ordinance on September 19 in making triple talaq a criminal offence.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had introduced a modified Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, commonly known as the Triple Talaq Bill, in the Lok Sabha on December 17.

Introducing the bill, Prasad said despite the Supreme Court striking down the practice of talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq) as unconstitutional, men were divorcing their wives on flimsy grounds and even via Whatsapp.

Triple talaq is verbal divorce practised by a section in the Muslim community to give instant divorce to their wives by saying the word ‘talaq’ three times.

The Supreme Court had in August 2017 declared “Triple Talaq” unconstitutional and in violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which provides for equality before the law and directed the government to enact a law on the issue.

(With agency inputs)