New Delhi: The Lok Sabha today passed the contentious bill that criminalises the instant triple talaq practice with up to three years in jail for the husband. The bill was passed after the intense debate as the House rejected a string of amendments proposed by Asaduddin Owaisi, Congress and BJD.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who had tabled the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 called it a “historic day.” Prasad said the bill was “not about religion but about justice and respect for women.” He said that the bill was essential for gender equality and dignity.
Union Minister M J Akbar speaking on behalf of the government defended the bill and said that it would have far-reaching implications for 9 crore Muslim women living under the “constant fear of being divorced”.
MJ Akbar also questioned the credibility of All India Muslim Personal Law Board for opposing the move. He asked ‘who made them community representatives?’
AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi who had opposed the bill questioned the need for a new law, saying that it violated the fundamental rights. “Triple talaq bill will not give justice to Muslim women but will lead to more injustice,” he said after the House was adjourned on Thursday.
“The government had argued in the court that all talaq must be abolished. By this law, they are trying to do away with our personal laws. The law minster who is the drafter has failed to distinguish between civil law and criminal law. In Section 3, the law minister accepts that triple talaq will be void, then how can you punish him? Something which is void cannot be punished as it has no legal force. The law minister quotes Pakistan, but the Section 61 of Pakistan law has been stayed by the supreme court of Pakistan. No Muslim country has a penal provision”, said Owaisi.
The Congress has sought the bill to be sent to the Standing Committee. Congress leader Sushmita Dev who had raised apprehensions about the misuse of the law, said, “SC banned Triple talaq because it believed that a couple should get time for reconciliation. With this bill, offence will be now a non-bailable one. There will be no chance of reconciliation. I had moved an amendment over compensation for Muslim women in cases of triple talaq, it was negated by the government.” She also questioned the hurry behind passing the bill.
BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi called for a law against maulvis who oversee instant triple talaq. She said talaq-e-biddat has nothing to do with religion.
MPs from the RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and All India Muslim League opposed the bill, calling it arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’. It gives power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children. A victim can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate.
AIMPLB spokesperson Maulana Khalil-ur-Rehman Sajjad Nomani told PTI, “We will take whatever steps required through democratic means to amend, improve or scrap it. There is no move to go to court as of now…The bill was brought in a haste”.
Senior Supreme Court Lawyer Indira Jaising said, “Shameful display of brute force passing the Triple Talaq Bill turning Muslim husbands into criminals, this is not what we fought for in the Supreme Court of India”.
The Lok Sabha session has been extended till the triple talaq bill is passed. The session was supposed to end at 6 pm. However, when chair decided to hold a vote by the show of hand whether or not to extend the session, majority of the MPs voted to continue.
The bill will now be sent to Rajya Sabha before it is forwarded to the President for signing it into law.