September 19, 2018 / 7:34 AM / a month ago

India steps closer to making instant Muslim divorce a punishable offence

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s cabinet has approved an executive order to make instant divorce among Muslims, a procedure called “triple talaq”, a punishable offence, a government minister said on Wednesday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks to woo Muslim women voters.

FILE PHOTO: Muslim women hold placards during a protest against a bill passed by India's lower house of Parliament last week that aims at prosecuting Muslim men who divorce their wives through the "triple talaq," or instant divorce, in New Delhi, India January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo

The Supreme Court outlawed the practice last year, but Modi’s government wants to make it a non-bailable offence carrying a jail term of up to three years, following protests by Muslim women.

Federal Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told a news conference the cabinet approved the decree because the practice persisted despite the court decision.

In August last year, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a law that allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word “talaq”, or “divorce” in Arabic, three times.

The government has been trying to pass legislation to “explicitly ban” the procedure. In an Independence Day speech last month Modi said he would “not stop till they get justice,” referring to the women.

Reporting by Nigam Prusty; Writing by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Clarence Fernandez

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