India's government on Wednesday approved an ordinance to implement a top court ruling striking down the Muslim practice that allows men to instantly divorce. The government decision came after it failed to get approval of Parliament a year after the court ruled that the practice of triple "talaq" violated the constitutional rights of Muslim women. Most of the 170 million Muslims in India are Sunnis governed by the Muslim Personal Law for family matters and disputes. The laws include allowing men to divorce by simply uttering the Arabic word "talaq," or "divorce," three times—and not necessarily consecutively, but at any time, and by any medium, including telephone, text message, or social media post, reports the AP. The government will have another six months to get Parliament's approval for the ordinance to become law. But in the meantime, suspects can be prosecuted using the ordinance.
India's Muslim Law Board had told the court that while it considered the practice wrong, it opposed court intervention and asked that the matter be left to the community. But progressive Muslim activists decried the law board's position. After the Supreme Court verdict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government introduced a bill criminalizing the practice, and it was approved in December by the lower house of Parliament. But it couldn't get the approval of the upper house, where the opposition controls the majority of seats. The main opposition Congress party is opposing a three-year prison sentence for offenders and wants a parliamentary committee to discuss the issue to reach a consensus. It favors a lesser sentence.
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