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Oppn wanted triple talaq bill to go to House panel

Last updated on: December 27, 2018 23:02 IST

IMAGE: Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge speaks in the Lok Sabha. Photograph: PTI Photo

The Congress on Friday accused the National Democratic Alliance government of getting the triple talaq bill passed in haste in the Lok Sabha keeping in mind the 2019 general elections and said its provisions were against the Constitution as well as fundamental rights.

Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party was desperate to get The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 passed in Lok Sabha with political gains in mind in view of the impending general elections.

He also said stringent provisions like criminalisation of a civil offence were not there in any other law applicable to other religions as were there in the triple talaq bill.

"The triple talaq bill is against the Constitution. It is also against fundamental rights. They got the bill passed in haste in Lok Sabha as general elections are approaching," he told PTI after the bill was passed in the Lower House.

Kharge said the bill was similar to one which was brought earlier by the government, which had not listened to the Congress' demand for sending the proposed legislation to a joint select committee of both Houses of Parliament.

"At least the views of stake-holders need to be taken into account and an opportunity should be given to them. The bill should have been sent to the joint select committee, before its passage," he said.

The Congress leader asked why the government was criminalising a civil offence which was not there in any other law applicable for other religions.

The Lok Sabha Thursday passed the bill criminalising the practice of instant triple talaq, with the government rejecting the contention that it was aimed at targeting a particular community.

The Opposition, which had been demanding that the bill be referred to a 'joint select committee', staged a walkout when its demand was rejected by the government.

The bill was passed by the Lower House with 245 voting in favour and 11 opposing the legislation. It will now go to the Rajya Sabha for passage and if passed will become the law.

Piloting the bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there should be no politics on the bill, stressing that it was not against any particular community. PTI SKC AAR

 

A united Opposition in the Lok Sabha on Thursday pitched for referring the bill to a ‘joint select committee’ of Parliament, claiming its provisions were unconstitutional and that there was a need for a greater scrutiny of the draft law.

As soon as the House met at 2 pm after an adjournment to take up the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, demanded it be referred to a joint select committee of both Houses for greater scrutiny.

He said several provisions of the bill were ‘unconstitutional’.

All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader P Venugopal, Trinamool Congress’s Sudip Bandhopadhyay, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s Assaduddin Owaisi and Supriya Sule (Nationalist Congress Party) also made similar demands.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said a similar bill was discussed and passed by the Lok Sabha and therefore members can flag issues during the debate.

She said all of a sudden a demand cannot be made to send it to a committee.

Speaking in the house before moving the resolution, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the triple talaq bill, which seeks imprisonment for Muslim men accused of instant divorce, is not about politics but empowerment and justice for women.

Responding to demand of opposition parties, including the Congress and the TMC, that the bill be sent to a select committee for study, Prasad said the government has already taken note of concerns expressed by members earlier and amended the bill accordingly.

Prasad told the Lok Sabha that the bill has made the offence compoundable, meaning that the case can be withdrawn if the man and his estranged wife reach a compromise, and that only the wife and her close relatives can file an FIR, ruling out the law’s misuse.

“Don't weigh the bill on the scales of politics. This bill is not about any specific religion and community. The bill is about humanity and justice," he said, urging lawmakers of different parties to speak in one voice to support the legislation.

He said as many as 477 cases of triple talaq have been reported since January 2017 and cited a case where a professor gave talaq to his wife over WhatsApp.

Whereas another Muslim man gave talaq to his wife for attending Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally, the Union Law minister said, urging if the house unitedly can pass a bill for capital punishement for alleged rape with girls below age of 12 years, then why not this legislation.

Moving his statutory resolution opposing an ordinance issued earlier (which the bill seeks to replace), N K Premchandran (Revolutionary Socialist Party) said the bill is bad in law as it seeks to criminalise a ‘civil wrong’ and hence it should be referred to a select committee.

Opposing the Triple talaq bill in its current form, Congress MP Sushmita Dev Thursday said in the real purpose of the bill was not to empower Muslim women but to ‘penalise’ Muslim men.

Demanding that the bill be referred to the joint select committee of Parliament, Dev said criminalisation of triple talaq goes against the Supreme Court verdict.

"In the name of empowerment you (the government) have given nothing but a criminal case to women...the aim of the bill is not to empower Muslim women but to penalise Muslim men," she said.

The fresh Bill to make the practice of triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 17 to replace an ordinance issued in September.

Under the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void, and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.

The fresh bill will supersede an earlier bill passed in the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha.

The earlier bill was approved by the Lower House.

But amid opposition by some parties in the upper house, the government had then cleared some amendments, including introduction of a provision of bail, to make it more acceptable.

However, as the bill continued to face resistance in the Rajya Sabha, the government issued an ordinance in September, incorporating the amendments.

An ordinance has a life of six months. But from the day a session begins, it has to be replaced by a bill which should be passed by Parliament within 42 days (six weeks), else it lapses.

The government is at liberty to re-promulgate the ordinance if the bill fails to get through Parliament.

Citing details of instant triple talaq cases, the government had last week informed the Lok Sabha that till now 430 incidents of triple talaq have come to the notice of the government through the media.
Of these, 229 were reported before the Supreme Court declared triple talaq as unconstitutional, while another 201 came to the notice after it.

These cases were reported between the period January 2017 and September 13, 2018.

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