The triple talaq bill has further diluted the maintenance provision for women and will not give protection to them as being projected, activists said on Wednesday, calling it a step backward for women empowerment.
Kavita Krishnan, an activist and secretary of All India Progressive Women's Association, said the bill is weakening the existing "idea" that a woman should be given maintenance in tune with the life she has already enjoyed.
The government should have concentrated on strengthening the "extremely weak" maintenance law for women of all communities instead of criminalising the practice of triple talaq, she said.
She said Muslim women want their husband to support them and give them maintenance in case of divorce. "If the husband goes to jail, it would not help them. Triple talaq bill has diluted that (the maintenance provision)," she said.
Hasina Khan, one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court who has challenged the validity of unilateral triple talaq, said under the The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, the sustenance allowance would be decided by the magistrate which would delay the process.
"Who will take care of the children when the husband goes to jail. We don't want to destroy a marriage but triple talaq bill would destroy weddings," Khan said.
Mariam Dhawale, a women's rights activist, asked where will the woman go when her husband goes to jail.
"The bill does not talk about that. Which in-laws will keep the wife once the woman sends husband to jail. The bill does not give enough protection to Muslim women," she said.
Calling the bill "a step backward" for women empowerment, Dhawale said the bill is talking about subsistence allowance, under which women are to be given maintenance for the life she was already enjoying, but under this bill she has to be given a subsistence that would not be enough.
Tahir Mahmood, former chairman at National Minorities Commission and member of Law Commission of India, said the bill might act as a deterrent for men who irresponsibly walk out of marriages due to ordinary wear and tear of married life.
"Keep your marriage intact and it won't apply to you. The maulvis who have been opposing it have failed over the years to put any restraint on this totally un-Islamic and unconstitutional practice. Now their only option is to impress upon Muslim men that at least to avoid application of this "anti-shariat" measure they should keep away from triple talaq," he said.
Parliament approved the bill that makes the practice of instant triple talaq a criminal offence, after the contentious legislation was passed by Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Under the bill, divorcing through instant triple talaq will be illegal, void and would attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
While the bill makes triple talaq a "non-bailable" offence, an accused can approach a magistrate before trial to seek bail.
In a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself.