Bill criminalising triple talaq clears Lok Sabha hurdle
NEW DELHI: After just a day of discussion, the Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill that makes triple talaq a criminal offence.
The bill was passed after the House rejected a slew of amendments moved by various opposition members.
Despite reservations by opposition parties, the bill was cleared on the same day that it was introduced - something that was possible because the BJP government has a comfortable majority in the Lower House. The bill will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha.
The draft bill, officially called Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, says, "any pronouncement of talaq by a person upon his wife, by words, either spoken or written or in electronic form or any other manner whatsoever, shall be void and illegal."
The draft bill also has a provision of imprisonment for a term, which may extend to three years, and a fine, for violators.
"We are not interfering in Shariat", said law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the Lok Sabha during the debate on the Triple Talaq Bill.
"This law is for women's rights and justice and not regarding any prayer, ritual or religion," he added.
The law minister added that Centre is looking at the bill through the lens of humanity and not politics, as alleged by the opposition parties.
Members from RJD, AIMIM, BJD, Indian Union Muslim League and AIADMK, who had given the notice to oppose its introduction spoke against the measure. But members of the Congress and the Left, who were also opposing it from their benches, were not allowed to talk as they had not given notice. SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav was also seen opposing the bill.
While JPN Yadav of RJD questioned the proposed three-year jail term, AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi said Parliament lacks the legislative competence to pass the law as it violated fundamental rights.
The Congress has emphasised that it supports "any move to abolish triple talaq," though it has questioned the jail term provision and wanted some changes in the bill. "We need to strengthen the bill to protect women. If a man who abandons his wife and family is sent to jail how will he give them maintenance?" said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
Sources indicated the main opposition party is likely to seek amendments in the Rajya Sabha as well, which will mean that the bill will have to be sent to a parliamentary committee for review and is unlikely to be passed in the winter session. Both houses must clear legislation for it to become law.
Odds are stacked against the government in the Rajya Sabha, with the Triple Talaq bill being opposed by parties like the Biju Janata Dal and AIADMK, considered government-friendly as they regularly help it pass bills.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called for passage of the bill making instant triple talaq a punishable offence by consensus, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said.
The Supreme Court had in August this year ruled that triple talaq is unconstitutional. Muslim women had petitioned the court, arguing that practice of husbands divorcing them through triple talaq, including by Skype and WhatsApp, not only violated their rights but also left many women destitute.
"Only a law can explicitly ban triple talaq, we have to enforce legal procedures to provide an allowance and protect custody of children," said Prasad on Thursday, noting that "There were 300 triple talaq cases in 2017 of which 100 took place after the Supreme Court verdict." He also referred to media reports on Thursday that a woman was divorced by triple talaq in Uttar Pradesh for waking up late. See P5