NEW DELHI: India’s parliament on Tuesday passed a controversial law against the practice of “instant divorce” or “triple talaq” in Muslim families, making it a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government pushed through the bill despite stiff resistance from several opposition parties and a previous failed attempt to move the bill in the upper house.
“An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history,” Modi tweeted after the bill finally cleared the upper house.
“Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!”
Instant divorce, or “triple talaq,” is when a Muslim man ends his marriage by simply saying “talaq” – which means “you are divorced” in Arabic – three times in succession.
The Supreme Court declared the practise unconstitutional in 2017 and asked the government to legislate against it.
Modi held a sizable lower house majority in his first term when he first attempted to outlaw it, but did not have sufficient upper house support to pass the law.
Following his resounding victory in general elections in May, his government sought to pass the contentious legislation against significantly weakened and dispirited opposition, even as several opposition parliamentarians argued against making divorce a criminal act.
The law, which was passed by the lower house last week, will come into effect after receiving a formal nod from the president in the next few days.
Besides a jail term and a fine, the law will require Muslim men to financially support their wives, who will also get custody of their children.