Triple talaq ordinance garners mixed response: Activists, Congress accuse BJP of treating issue like 'political football'

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an ordinance making Triple Talaq a punishable offence after the government failed to pass the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, in both Houses of the Parliament. This is the second ordinance that the government has moved on the Triple Talaq issue, having considered the Opposition's objections to the bill. This will now be ratified by the Parliament in the Winter Session later in 2018.

President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday night signed the ordinance banning the practice, a senior law ministry functionary said. Under the ordinance, giving instant Triple Talaq is illegal and void, and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.

The decision has garnered a variety of responses from across the political spectrum.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has lauded the Cabinet's nod to the ordinance, and said the government’s decision was a huge step towards “empowering women.” Party chief Amit Shah tweeted that the decision would allow Muslim women to live with dignity:

He added: "This ordinance is also a matter of guilt and introspection for all those political parties who forced Muslim women to suffer from this bad practice for decades due to their vote bank politics."

Taking a dig at the Congress, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Kapil Sibal, a leader of the Opposition party, had defended this practice in the Supreme Court. For all these years, the Congress politicised the Triple Talaq issue for vote bank politics, he said at a press conference at the party office in Delhi.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, too, targeted the Congress, saying, "As many as 22 Muslim countries have regulated Triple Talaq by various measures, but in a secular country like India, gender justice was given a complete go-by because of vote bank politics." He added that there was a "compelling necessity" to bring the measure as instances of "Talaq-e-biddat" continued unabated despite the Supreme Court striking it down.

Conversely, the Congress has accused the Modi government of treating the issue of instant Triple Talaq "more as a political football than a matter of justice to Muslim women". Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala released an official statement via Twitter, accusing the BJP of "trying to divert and reset the political agenda after being cornered on the issue of repeated and gruesome rape incidents as well as women security in the country".

Some female activists also condemned the Cabinet's decision, calling it a "politicised move" without considering the complications it could pose to Muslim women, The Times of India reported.

According to the report, All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) secretary Kavita Krishnan asked: "Why are only Muslim men getting punished for abandoning their wives, and not Hindu men?"

PTI quoted her as saying: "Triple Talaq is not an official divorce, it is a form of abandonment. Does a Hindu man get imprisoned for abandoning his wife? We do not agree with the government's decision to make it a criminal offence."

As per another report from The Times of India, the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) has cautioned that the Ordinance must not be hailed as a panacea for the troubles of women who are victims of Triple Talaq.

“Even after the amendments the fact that after she files an FIR and sends her husband to jail the woman will be left behind to fend for herself and her children," said NFIW general secretary Annie Raja.

She raised doubts about the "intention and sincerity" of the government and said, "The government has taken this step for political gains in the upcoming elections... If the government is so concerned about the welfare of women, why is it keeping mum on the Women's Reservation Bill? That would empower them too."

General secretary of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), Mariam Dhawale, said the move would create most problems for Muslim women only. "It would leave them (Muslim women) nowhere. What about property rights of the women and her children after Triple Talaq, there needs to be clarity on that," Dhawale added.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Sep 20, 2018 13:45:31 IST