Lok Sabha passes triple Talaq Bill; Congress walks out

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 25, 2019

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said despite the Supreme Court striking down the practice , it is still rampant   -  -

The Bill is required for ensuring gender equality, justice: Ravi Shankar Prasad

Angry outbursts and threats of a walkout by the Congress in the Lok Sabha on Thursday preceded the passage of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill which makes the practice of instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years in jail for the offender.

The Bill was passed with 303 MPs voting in favour and 82 against.

Three Ordinances have so far been promulgated, as a similar bill moved by the previous government could not get Parliament’s nod. A fresh bill was introduced by the government in June during the ongoing Parliament session.

The main objections against the proposed legislation pertained to why divorce, a civil matter, was being turned into a criminal act; what was the reason to bring a law when the Supreme Court had already termed the practice of triple talaq as null and void; and from whom is the wife expected to get her subsistence allowance if the husband is serving a jail term.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who piloted the bill, underlined its significance saying that it is required for ensuring gender equality and justice. He added that despite the August 2017 Supreme Court verdict striking down the practice, women are still being divorced through the practice of talaq-e-biddat.

He said since January 2017, as many as 574 triple cases and more than 300 since the Supreme Court order, were reported by media. The Law Minister said “20 Muslim countries in the world, including Pakistan and Malaysia, have banned the practice. Why can’t a secular country like India do it?” he said.

Tense atmosphere

During the debate, ruling party MPs raised a strong objection to Rampur MP Azam Khan’s address to the Deputy Speaker Rama Devi, who was presiding at the time.

The Opposition was led by the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) MP Asaduddin Owaisi, who said that for a crime to be committed, both intent and act need to have occurred. “When there is no actus reus (action which is the constituent element of a crime), how can there be a crime. The Supreme Court has already declared talaq-e-biddat as null and void. So for what action is the government proposing to jail the husband?” he asked.

Owaisi asserted this was an ‘anti-women’ legislation.

“When the husband pronounces triple talaq, which the Supreme Court has declared null and void, the government sends the husband to jail. What is the wife supposed to do when he comes back from jail after three years. Will she say baharo phool barsao mera mehboob aya hai (let flowers rain on my beloved)’. What kind of absurdity is this?” he said, asking that when all serious offences such as homosexuality and adultery are being legalised in a marriage, why is a Muslim man being sent to jail for divorcing his wife?

Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) MP NK Premachandran 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 judgment of the court. If you are so concerned, why don’t you bring a legislation to end the incidents of mob lynching. What is your stand on Sabarimala temple,” he said.

Published on July 25, 2019

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