Revised Triple Talaq Bill passed in the Lok Sabha
Lok Sabha passed Triple Talaq Bill by 238 votes for the motion and 12 against. Opposition including Congress and AIADMK staged a walk out demanding the bill be sent to a Parliamentary Select Committee
The revised Triple Talaq Bill was passed on Thursday by the Lok Sabha after a five hour long debate. It provides for a three-year jail term for the husband who delivers instant divorce to his wife by uttering ‘Talaq’ thrice.
The Government brought in three changes in the earlier Bill. Only the woman or a close relative can now file a police complaint. It also provides for dropping the case if the couple are reconciled. And it provides for the magistrate to decide on the husband’s prayer for bail only after hearing the wife.
The opposition decried the move to criminalise desertion of the wife and the three year prison term. Speakers felt that the Supreme Court while declaring Triple Talaq unconstitutional had nowhere suggested that it be made into a criminal offence. Speakers also pointed out that a jailed husband would be in no position to provide maintenance to the wife and children.
Some opposition speakers felt that rather than divorcing their wives, husbands may opt to just abandon their wives. They also asked why desertion of only Muslim women was being criminalised and not the deserted Hindu, Sikh or Christian wives.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that as many as 400 cases of instant Triple Talaq had been reported this year and the police was unable to act in the absence of a suitable legal framework.
The treasury benches ignored the opposition demand to send the Bill to a Select Committee for scrutiny and due diligence. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) earlier wrote to non-BJP MPs and requested them to oppose the Bill.
The letter, signed by AIMPLB executive member Asma Zehra, argues that the Bill is anti-women as it criminalises an offence that is essentially civil as per Islamic law which will only lead to an increase in the number of abandoned women.
Here is a selection of what some opposition MPs said in the Lok Sabha:
- "This is an important bill and it is important that we go into the finest details. This is a matter of religion. Hence, this should be referred to the Joint Selection Commitee. One month’s time should be given and then the matter can be taken up for dicussuion.": Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Congress in the House
- "Why are Muslim husbands being targeted? The bill fails to answer who will take care of the wife and children for three years. More than two crore Muslim women participated in silent protests against this Bill. It is ironical that such a Bill is being pushed forward with scant inputs from those who will be affected. This bill is an eyewash, and undemocratic.": AIADMK MP Anwhar Raajhaa
- "Implementing the Triple Talaq Bill in its current form will be a disaster as many men, fearing criminal prosecution, may simply abandon their wives rather than divorcing them". : BJD's Rabindra Jena
- If a man beats his wife, he belongs in jail, but if he divorces her for whatever reason, does he belong in jail? Why does the Bill exclude Jammu and Kashmir from its purview? Is J&K not a part of India?" : Jayadev Galla, TDP
- "This is an attempt to criminalise a civil wrong. This is a very poorly-drafted Bill. It proposes criminalising a civil wrong - why is it valid only for Muslims and not Hindus and Christians? how can a husband who is put in jail for three years provide maintenance to the wife? Clause 3,5,6 are inter-contradictory and unconstitiutional, " : NK Premchandran, RSP
- "You treat Muslim men as second-class citizens, and you are talking about justice for Muslim women? Crocodile tears are being shed on behalf of Muslim women. The fight to abolish Triple Talaq has been on for over 50 years by progressive Muslim women groups. It did not start five years ago like our PM is claiming.": Mohammed Salim, CPM