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Instant triple talaq bill passed in Lok Sabha

Last updated on: July 25, 2019 23:45 IST

The bill was passed by the 16th Lok Sabha but could not pass the Rajya Sabha hurdle. Now the bill will face scrutiny of Rajya Sabha again.

Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the bill to ban instant triple talaq, with the government asserting that the law was required as hundreds of cases of instant divorce have come to the fore despite Supreme Court striking down the practice.

Replying to the debate on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the law was also required to prescribe punishment for those violating it.

A move by the Opposition to stall the bill at the time of its consideration was rejected by a division vote of 303 for and 82 against.

Several amendments moved by the Opposition were defeated.

The clause in the bill which criminalises the practice with a jail term of upto three years for the husband was passed by a division of 302 in favour and 78 against.

The bill was passed by voice vote amidst walkout by the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, the Trinamool Congress, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam among others.

The bill was passed by the 16th Lok Sabha but could not pass the Rajya Sabha hurdle.

Now the bill will face scrutiny of Rajya Sabha again.

 

Responding to questions raised by members, Prasad said 574 cases of triple talaq were reported since January 2017 and 101 after the issuance of an Ordinance in this regard.

The minister said despite the August 2017 judgement of the apex court, cases of instant divorce are being reported.

He said this was the main reason behind the proposed law.

He also questioned the opposition to jail term for the husband who gives instant triple talaq.

"When Hindus and Muslims are jailed under dowry law or Domestic Violence Act, no one objects. What is the objection in penalising the practice," he said.

As a deterrent, the bill prescribes a jail term of up to three years for the husband for pronouncing triple talaq, he said.

On why the National Democratic Alliance government was coming out with a bill concerning Muslim women, the minister said because the practice is prevalent in the Muslim community and not in any other community.

Quoting a commentary by Amir Ali, Prasad said that even Prophet Mohammad was very much opposed to this practice and had on an occasion asked his follower to take back his wife.

He regretted that despite the explicit opposition to the practice of instant triple talaq in Islamic texts, "the House has to discuss it for the third time."

The intention of those opposing the bill or those wanting it to be referred to the standing committee or select committee is to stall it.

He wanted to know why there was no opposition to provision of jail term in Dowry Protection Act and other personal laws concerning Hindus.

"Modi sarkar ghum-ghum ke nahi chalti. Sidhe chalti hai (The Modi government does not beat around the bush. It acts clearly)," he stressed..

He said that Congress could have banned this practice in 1986 at the time of Shah Bano controversy but did not do so because of vote bank politics.

"Triple talaq is regulated in 20 countries. When it can change in countries following sharia law, why can't in a secular country," questioned Prasad.

He said that even All India Muslim Personal Law Board did nothing in pursuance to a promise made to the Supreme Court that it would educate Muslims and ensure inclusion of safeguards against instant triple talaq in nikkah nama.

"I am the law minister of the Narendra Modi government and not of the Rajiv Gandhi government," said Prasad, adding "this is not a question of religion, faith or vote, it is a question of nari samman (women dignity) It is about doing justice to women."

He said what the bill seeks to ban is talaq-e-biddat and not other forms of talaq.

Although BJP gets less of minority votes, the party works for the welfare of all communities, the minister said.

In the context of banning instant triple talaq, he said, "for us only stake holder is women who had suffered on account of triple talaq and not the All India Muslim Personal Law Board."

With regard to issues raised by members on mob lynching, the Minister said that action was being taken against the culprits under the IPC.

Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision for bail for the accused.

While the bill makes it a "non-bailable" offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail.

In a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself. A provision was added to allow the magistrate to grant bail "after hearing the wife", the government has said.

The wife is entitled for subsistence allowance to be decided by the magistrate after she files a complaint against the husband.

There cannot be any maintenance as instant triple talaq itself is illegal and there is no legal separation, the minister said.

The Congress and other opposition parties demanded the bill be sent to the standing committee for review, saying it targets Muslim community of the country.

The BJP, which had issued a whip to its MPs to ensure maximum strength in the House, had fielded its women members -- Meenakshi lekhi, Poonam Mahajan, Aparajita Sarangi -- to participate in the debate.

Opposing the bill, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi said there are nine types of talaqs in Islam.

Owaisi asked if the husband is jailed, as the bill proposes, then how will he be able to pay the maintainance to his wife while sitting in the jail.

"You want to destroy the institution of marriage and bring the women on the road," he said.

Owaisi said when the Supreme Court has banned instant triple talaq then why does the government want to jail Muslim man.

In a ligher vein, he said, "We Muslims marry for one life, not for ever and ever."

Targeting the BJP, Owaisi said if the government was so keen to give justice to the Muslim women, it should also think about the Muslim women who were "raped" during the 2013 Muzzaffarpur riots and yet there is no conviction in those cases.

"You brought law against Jallikattu (bull-taming) but failed to bring legislation against the mob lynching of the Muslims in different parts of the country," the AIMIM member said.

Owaisi challenged the government to take all women MPs of the BJP in a special aircraft to Sabrimala, if the government is concerned about the rights of women.

Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said the SC had not asked the government to make triple talaq criminial offence.

"If you want to protect Muslim women who are divorced by their husbands, then you should also give protection to Hindu and Parsi women who are deserted by their husbands," Gogoi said.

Another Congress MP, Mohammad Jawed, alleged that the government's intent is not clean and it wants to sideline the Muslim community.

"I request the minister to send the bill to the standing committee for review and think of laws for separated women of all communities and not Muslims alone," he said.

He said more number of Hindu women are being divorced as compared to Muslim women.

Jawed also alleged this law is being formulated to jail Muslim men.

Indian Union Muslim League's E T Basheer said the proposed bill was "unconstitutional, unwanted and ill-motivated".

Communist Party of India-Marxist MP A M Ariff said he concurred with several members that triple talaq was uncivilised but he did not favour any legislation on the issue as the Supreme Court has already termed it illegal.

He said the intention of the government was to create fear in the minds of Muslims by bringing in legislations on triple talaq.

Opposing the bill, IUML P K Kunhalikutty said it is discriminatory in nature.

"If it is for Muslim women, why you did not hold consultations with at least one Muslim organisation," he said adding "why it is not convincing at all".

He said that according to the last census, percentage of Muslim divorce is very minimal, 0.56 per cent, whereas in other community, the percentage is high.

"It is your political agenda and nothing else. Why are you in a hurry," he added.

Telugu Desam Party MP Jayadev Galla said his party continues to oppose the bill as it criminalises triple talaq. He wondered what will happen in cases where men abandon their wives without giving talaq.

Galla said the bill is discriminatory in nature as it looks only at one community.

BJP"s Poonam Mahajan said prevention is better than cure and the proposed legislation is seeking to do the same.

She said the bill is not about empowerment of women alone but it is also in consonance with government's motto of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas aur Sabka Vikas'.

BJP MP Aparajita Sarangi said the practise of triple talaq violates human rights. It is also regressive notion of patriarchy which treat women in an undignified manner and there is no convincing logic in opposing the legislation, she said.

BJP MP Meenakashi Lekhi said the bill is not the agenda of the BJP, but it is the agenda of the nation.

The opposition parties are not able to digest the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, being a Hindu, is thinking for Muslims, Lekhi said.

She sought to scoff off the notion that the Muslim religion is in danger because of this law.

Lekhi said there were sharia courts running in Uttar Pradesh when Akhilesh Yadav was the chief minister.

This remark witnessed argument between Yadav, currently member of the Lok Sabha, and the BJP member.

Intervening in the debate, Union minister Anurag Thakur said that if a woman MP is speaking, a male member should not interfere as it would not send a good message.

Lekhi said the government has shown the political courage by bringing this bill and that the earlier government did appeasement to gain votes.

She cited that 22 Muslim countries have given up the practise of triple talaq.

"Why a section should be neglected and left to a community," she said adding somebody has to show political courage and this government has shown that.

Opposing the bill, National Democratic Alliance ally Janata Dal-United said it will create a lack of trust in the society and walked out of the House.

Stating his party does not support the bill, Rajiv Ranjan Singh told the Lok Sabha that it will "create a lack of trust in the mind of the society."

He was of the view that government should do all that is necessary to create "awareness among the people of this community (minority)."

This society does run with strict laws, he said, adding that everyone is run by customs.

"That society also has its own customs," Singh said adding the government has taken this "historic" step to put an end to their customs.

Citing the example of government's Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Singh said the need of the hour is that in haste no law should be made and rather awareness should be created.

Several laws made earlier were being misused, Singh said adding "if the law is made like this it would be misued."

Since 1996, he said, the JD-U is with the NDA.

Today also it is with the NDA barring a few years in between, Singh said, adding in the beginning itself JD-U had made it clear that on some contentious issues it will not support the government.

"We boycott the bill," he said and walked out of the proceedings of the House.

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