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Indian Parliament passes bill to criminalize ‘triple talaq’

NEW DELHI (India) The Indian parliament has passed a bill ending the Muslim practice of instant “triple talaq”.

The legislation to criminalize the practice comes two years after the Supreme Court said it violated the constitutional rights of Muslim women.

The upper house of parliament, Rajya Sabha, on Tuesday passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill with a 99-84 approval, making the practice punishable with up to three years in jail.

The passage of the bill was a victory for India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP says the bill corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women.

“An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history!” Modi posted on Twitter. “This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!”

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the bill’s approval by the upper house of parliament reflects the empowerment of women and India’s changing profile.

The more powerful lower house, called the Lok Sabha, had approved the bill last week. It will become law after India’s president approves it, which is a formality.

“Triple talaq” is a practice under which a Muslim man can divorce his wife by simply uttering “talaq” – the Arabic word for divorce – three times. It is prevalent among India’s Muslims, a majority of whom follow the Hanafi Islamic school of law.

The mode of divorce is not universal among Muslims across the world, as many other Islamic schools of thought prefer the divorce process to be deferred, in many cases over a period of three months.

Most of the 170 million Muslims in India are Sunnis governed by the Muslim Personal Law for family matters.