Indian President Ram Nath Kovind signed into law Thursday a bill banning the Muslim practice of “triple talaq” divorce, which permitted men to divorce their wives simply by repeating the word “talaq” (divorce) three times.
The new law — The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019 — bans talaq-e-biddat or any other similar forms of instant divorce, making such acts null and void.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leader of the majority Hindu Bharatiya Janata (HBJ) Party, praised the passing of the law on Twitter, calling it an important triumph for women’s rights.
“An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history,” Modi said. “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.”
Some Indian Muslims, however, argued that the new law is superfluous and was meant to target Islam, since the practice had already been banned in the courts.
“I fail to understand the need to pass the triple talaq bill especially since the Supreme Court had already declared it illegal,” said Mehbooba Mufti, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party leader.
“Undue interference seemingly to punish Muslims. Given the current state of the economy, should this really have been a priority?” Mufti asked in a social media post.
The new law carries with it a punishment of up to three years of prison for violators, which opponents said could be abused as a way to target Muslims.
The bill was passed by the upper house of the Indian parliament on Tuesday by a vote of 99 to 84, assisted by the abstention of a number of legislators.