Bill to ban instant divorce in India passed by the lower house
Posted on July 27th, 2019

Courtesy The Gulf News

The contentious bill that would criminalise instant triple talaq was passed by Lok Sabha

190621 india triple talaq

Indian Muslim women rest inside Jama Masjid in New Delhi. The bill now faces the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) test – most of the fence-sitters who sided with the government today over the amendments to the landmark Right to Information Act, have said they oppose the bill on triple talaq.Image Credit: AP

The contentious Bill to ban the practice of triple talaq among Muslims and punish the guilty husband with three years jail was on Thursday passed by the Lok Sabha despite the opposition’s demand for its scrutiny by a Standing Committee.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 which prohibits divorce by pronouncing talaq thrice in one occasion by their husbands was passed with 303 votes in favour and 82 against.

Replying to debate, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who moved the Bill for passage, said the legislation is not related to politics or religion, but “a matter of women’s dignity”.

He said that Muslim women themselves have come up to him to tell him that after this law comes to be, they will celebrate Eid and Independence Day.

Noting many evils among Hindus in the country, such as sati and dowry, were penalised, Prasad said that penal law acts as a deterrent.

He said the only relevant stakeholders when it comes to the Bill are the Muslim women, not the Muslim Boards in the country.

The Minister said the Bill that advocates three years jail for a husband who goes for Triple Talaq was needed to provide gender justice and equality.

Citing the Supreme Court’s 2017 verdict striking down the illegal practice and asking Parliament to bring a law over the issue, Prasad said that women were being divorced by ‘talaq-e-biddat’ which is against gender justice.

He said the apex court had noted that 20 Islamic countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia had outlawed triple talaq. “And if they could do it, why cannot it be done in India which is a secular country?” he asked.

“The Supreme Court has said that triple talaq is arbitrary and unconstitutional and asked Parliament to make a law. When we come up with a law, it is opposed. What should our Muslim women do in this situation? Should our Muslim sisters be left (in this situation)?”

He said the Indian Constitution’s core philosophy was gender justice. “The Indian Constitution is equal for all daughters. So the Bill is needed.”

The Minister said that three ordinances had so been promulgated as a similar Bill moved by the previous Modi government could not get parliamentary approval.

A fresh Bill was introduced by the new government in June. Under the Bill, divorcing through instant triple talaq would be illegal, void and attract a jail term of three years for the husband.

Prasad rejected fears that the proposed law could be misused and asserted that certain safeguards had been put in it including provision for bail before trial.

While the Bill makes triple talaq a non-bailable offence, an accused can approach a Magistrate before trial to seek bail. A provision has been added to allow the Magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”, the Minister said.

BJP ally Janata Dal-United, however, opposed the Bill, saying there was a need to create public awareness on the issue with the help of Muslim community leaders, and then walked out of the house.

Participating in the discussion, JD-U member Rajiv Ranjan Singh said his party believed the Bill would cause harm to the society.

“The Bill will produce a different feeling in the society because no one wants that there should be differences in the relationship between wife and husband,” he said.

Giving examples of misuse of other laws, he said: “You made the Anti-Dowry Act and Section 498A (of the IPC to stop cruelty against women). But these laws are being misused. So if you will make another such law, it will be misused.”

Calling the Bill “politically motivated” to target a particular community, RSP’s N.K. Premachandran said that Supreme Court has never given a directive to the government to make a law on this.

He asked why is the government not ready to make a legislation on mob lynching when it has been directed by the Supreme Court and that consecutive promulgation of Ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution.

IUML’s P.K. Kunhalikutty said the divorce rate of Muslims is very low and accused the government of playing politics. “You have a political agenda, that’s why you are bringing this Bill in a hurry”.

Congress’ S. Jothimani said the government is playing a “divide and rule policy” among women.

“Irrespective of religion, women are subjugated to injustices and have been going through this for years. Rape and marital rape are also important issues that the parliament should take up with the same interest,” she said, adding the Bill goes strongly against the rights of Muslims, and especially Muslim women.

The Bill must be sent to the Standing Committee, she demanded.

AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi said that the Supreme Court has decriminalised homosexuality and adultery, but the government is criminalising talaq. He asked who bears the burden of proof.

Government defends bill on triple talaq

Opposition MP slams it as a move to target Muslim men

New Delhi : Lok Sabha on Thursday took up for consideration the contentious bill to make the practice of instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband.

Moving the bill for consideration, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice as despite an August 2017 Supreme Court verdict striking down the practice of instant triple talaq, women are being divorced by ‘talaq-e-biddat’.

He said, since January 2017, as many as 574 triple talaq cases and since the Supreme Court order, more than 300 such cases were reported by the media.

Under this circumstances, what should we do? Should we allow Muslim women to be continued to be exploited,” he said.

20 Muslim countries in the world, including Pakistan and Malaysia, have banned the triple talaq. Why can’t a secular India do it?

– Ravi Shankar Prasad | Law Minister

The law minister said 20 Muslim countries in the world, including Pakistan and Malaysia, have banned the triple talaq. Why can’t a secular India do it?,” he asked.

Opposing the bill, RSP member N K Premachandra said the bill has been brought with an ulterior political motive to target the Muslim community” and specific political agenda of the BJP”.

You are bringing the bill on the basis of the minority judgement of the court. If you have so much of concern, why don’t you bring a legislation to end the incidents of mob lynching. What is your stand on Sarbarimala temple,” he asked.

Premachandran said the ordinance on the subject was a fraud on the Constitution” as a civil matter is being converted into a criminal matter.

How can a jailed husband give compensation to the wife,” he said.

He also said there is no provision of imprisonment for divorce in Hindu and Christian communities.

This is not a move to protect Muslim women but to harass Muslim husbands,” he said.

Prasad said there were three different judgements of the five-judge bench of the court and in one of the judgements, the court said Triple Talaq is part of the ‘Shariah’ and a law should be enacted to end the practice.

The core philosophy of our Constitution is gender justice, irrespective of religion. We want to give honour and justice to the women,” he said.

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