Parliament Makes Instant Talaq Criminal

PM Narendra Modi's tweet: An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history! Parliament abolishes triple talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!

The BJP government scored a major political victory when the Rajya Sabha approved the legislation to ban instant triple talaq, aided by walkout of some parties. Congress, Trinamool, SP and a few other parties voted against the legislation. The bill’s passage came after the Modi government’s two failed attempts to get Parliament nod during its previous tenure.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, passed by the Lok Sabha last week, was cleared by the Rajya Sabha with a margin of 15. Ninety-nine votes were cast in favour and 84 against. Congress, Trinamool, DMK, the Left parties, SP, YSRCP, PDP, RJD and AAP opposed the bill. Since some of the parties, including the Congress, had not issued whips, some MPs were absent in the House during voting.

BSP and TDP opposed the bill during the debate while TRS did not participate. JDU and AIADMK staged a walkout in protest against the bill, helping the government secure the numbers needed by lowering the majority figure. BJD supported the bill and voted in its favour.

Earlier, replying to the debate, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed concern over the growing number of instant talaq cases despite the SC ban on it and an ordinance to ban it. Saying that people were willing to “support a positive initiative”, he asked the opposition to not be ‘guided by politics’ while deciding on the rights of Muslim women. Prasad said the subsistence allowance to be given to the victim by her husband will be determined by his income. “Our research has shown that 75% victims come from poor families,” he said. Prasad said several Muslim countries have banned instant talaq.

Though the government retained the clause that treats indulgence in instant talaq a crime — one of the major grounds on which some parties opposed the bill — it has been now made a bailable and compoundable offence. The government had withdrawn the clause allowing a third person to file a complaint when it had brought the bill to Parliament the second time.

Leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the bill was “politically motivated” and though his party stood for women’s empowerment, it is forced to oppose the bill due to the criminality clause and some other provisions. “We wanted to support the bill with some changes. We had moved a resolution to send the bill to a select committee but it was rejected,” Azad said. The motion to send the bill to a select panel was defeated with 84 voting for and 100 against it.

Azad said the triple talaq law will lead to minorities fighting among themselves and both the husband and wife paying hefty fees to lawyers which will make them bankrupt.

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