Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government on Friday introduced a fresh bill against instant triple talaq in the Lok Sabha, lower House of parliament, amid vehement protests by opposition lawmakers who said it was violative of the Constitution. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019 became the first legislation to be tabled in parliament by the Modi dispensation in its second term.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tabled the Bill saying it was a must for gender equality and justice and this was not a question of religion. The Bill was introduced following a division of votes, with 186 members supporting and 74 opposing it. Seeking to justify the legislation, Prasad said that after the Supreme Court judgement banning triple talaq practise, more than 200 cases were reported. "This is a question of dignity of women and we are committed to (safeguard) it," he said.
As soon as Speaker Om Birla asked Prasad to move the Bill, several opposition members rose in protest and Birla allowed them to put forth their points of view. Shashi Tharoor of the Congress said he was opposed to triple talaq (instant divorce) but was against this Bill as it conflates civil and criminal laws
He claimed it was a textbook example of class legislation as it was pointed at one community -- Muslims-- even though abandoning wives is not unique to it
Tharoor said there should be a law universally applicable to all in case of abandoning wives.
Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen took a dig at the BJP, saying it has so much affection for Muslim women but is opposed to rights of Hindu women to enter Sabrimala Temple in Kerala. The triple talaq Bill violates constitutional rights as it stipulates three-year jail term for guilty Muslim men while non-Muslim men get only one year of jail term for a similar offence, he said
N K Premchandran of the RSP also opposed the Bill. With the dissolution of the previous 16th Lok Sabha last month, the previous Bill against instant triple talaq lapsed as it was pending in the Rajya Sabha, upper House of parliament. The Bill, which proposes to make the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) a penal offence, had faced objections from opposition parties right from beginning which claimed that jail term for a man for divorcing his wife was legally untenable
Under the Indian Constitution, Bills that are introduced in the Rajya Sabha and are pending there do not lapse with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. However, bills passed by the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha lapse with the dissolution of the lower house The government had promulgated the ordinance against triple talaq twice -- in September last year and in February this year as the contentious Bill remained pending in the Rajya Sabha, though it was passed by the previous Lok Sabha.