The Lok Sabha passed the contentious bill making instant triple illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband, a development hailed by the government as "historic".
The bill was passed after the House rejected a string of amendments moved by Asaduddin Owaisi from the AIMIM and Bhartruhari Mahtab from the BJD. MPs from the RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and All India Muslim League opposed the bill, calling it arbitrary in nature. One of Owaisi's amendments saw 241 voting against it, and only two voting in its favour.
The Congress' Sushmita Dev said, "I moved an amendment over compensation for Muslim women in cases of triple talaq. It was negated by the government."
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.
Under the proposed law, instant triple talaq in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp — would be illegal and void. It will make instant talaq punishable by a jail term of up to three years and a fine, and would be a cognisable, non-bailable offence.
The Bill will now be sent to the Rajya Sabha for passage before it is forwarded to the President for signing it into law. The Bill's prospects in the Rajya Sabha are uncertain as the government lacks majority and the Congress' support for the Bill is conditional.
Fulfilling its electoral promise, the BJP-led government moved swiftly to draft the legislation following a Supreme Court order in August, striking down the practice as unconstitutional. The apex court asked the government to come up with a legislation within six months. "It is a historic day. We are making history today," Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the House after tabling the Bill.
While many were not happy, especially regional and Muslim parties, the Congress said it supports the Bill but with strengthened safeguards for divorced Muslim women. It asked for the Bill to be sent to a Standing Committee, instead of being decided on Thursday itself.
Owaisi slams Narendra Modi, Ravi Shankar Prasad
AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi said Parliament lacks the legislative competence to pass the law as it violated fundamental rights. Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Owaisi said that while the Bill talks only about Muslim women being abandoned, the government should also worry about nearly 20 lakh women of various religions who are abandoned by their husbands, "including our bhabhi from Gujarat."
Owaisi also slammed Prasad, saying, "The Union law minister has failed to discriminate between civil law and criminal law. Not a single Muslim country has a penal provision. Triple talaq is a form of verbal and emotional abuse," he said. Owaisi alleged that the Centre was giving an advantage to the offenders and was not helping the situation.
"Your dream of having more Muslims in jail will be achieved. Please send the Bill to the Standing Committee. You are forcing a Muslim woman to file an FIR against her husband. You are giving a handle to the Muslim man, who will have 90 days. If you are true to your intentions, create a corpus of 1,000 crore," he said.
RSP leader NK Premchandran said: "The main apprehension is the over enthusiasm of the NDA government led by the BJP. There is a cloud of suspicion. Triple talaq is already declared by Supreme Court as null and void. It has become the law of the land. Then the question is what is the need of further legislation?"
Members from Congress and the Left were not allowed to speak on the Bill as they had not given notice. SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav was also seen opposing the Bill. Although Congress supported the Bill, senior leader Salman Khurshid, a former law minister, said the proposed law is an intrusion into the personal lives of individuals, and would bring the civil issue of divorce into the realm of criminal law.
The TMC, which had opposed the draft bill earlier, was silent. JPN Yadav of RJD questioned the proposed three-year jail term. Muslim League's ET Mohammed Bashir said the proposed law was violative of personal laws and was a politically motivated move. He said that given the population of Muslims in the country, triple talaq cases were negligible. "You are unnecessarily taking gun to kill the mosquito. You have jeopardised the sanctity of the House," he said.
B Mahtab (BJD) said while he would not talk about the merits of the bill, its framing was "faulty and "flawed". He said if the proposed law makes the practice of instant triple talaq illegal and void, how can a person be jailed for pronouncing 'talaq-e-biddat?'
'Bill to provide justice, security and honour to women'
Soon after the introduction of the Bill was approved, Prasad wondered whether Parliament could remain silent if the fundamental rights of women were being trampled. He said the legislation was not aimed against any religion but was framed to provide a sense of justice, security and honour to women.
He said the law was required as even after the Supreme Court had struck down the practice of 'talaq-e-biddat' in August, it was continuing. He claimed that as recently as today, a woman in Rampur was given instant triple talaq by her husband for getting up late.
ANI reported that the woman Prasad mentioned in Parliament came out in support of the Bill.
#TripleTalaq should be banned, and I support the bill being brought to ban it: Gul Afshan, a resident of Rampur's Azimnagar who said her husband gave her #TripleTalaq because she woke up late in the morning pic.twitter.com/1woTInLlU3
— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) December 28, 2017
Parliament has to decide whether the victims of triple talaq have fundamental rights or not, Prasad said, after some Opposition members claimed it violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
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Updated Date: Dec 29, 2017 07:05:48 IST