Lok Sabha approves law making instant triple talaq a criminal offence
Bill seeking to protect the rights of married Muslim women by prohibiting the practice of instant triple talaq will next be taken up in the Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Thursday signed off on a law which criminalizes the practice of instant triple talaq.
The legislation seeks to protect the rights of married Muslim women by prohibiting the practice under which a Muslim man can divorce his wife by uttering the word “talaq” three times at one go.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 will now be taken up in the Rajya Sabha.
Addressing the House after discussions on the Bill, Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “This is a historic day. This law has not been made for any political benefit.”
Clarifying that the husband can always apply to the magistrate for bail, Prasad said that not only does the proposed law declare instant triple talaq void and illegal, it also makes such a pronouncement punishable with a fine and imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years.
Prasad clarified that the Bill provides for subsistence allowance for the wife and dependent children after triple talaq is pronounced, a demand that a few opposition parties had made during the course of the debate.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at a meeting of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) parliamentarians, called for a consensus on the Bill, parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar told reporters.
However, the Bill did face opposition in the Lok Sabha, with some parties calling it “unconstitutional” and saying that it lacked legal coherence.
Opposition parties demanded changes in the Bill and more consultations on it. Parties including the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) demanded that the Bill be sent to a standing committee for further discussions.
“There is no doubt about the fact that Congress will help the government to bolster the rights of Muslim women. But the Bill needs to be watertight when it comes to the financial security of women. Will the government create a corpus to provide maintenance to divorced women waiting for compensation?” Congress MP Sushmita Dev said.
The Supreme Court in August declared the practice of instant triple talaq unconstitutional in a 3-2 majority verdict. Justices Kurian Joseph, Rohinton F. Nariman and U.U. Lalit ruled for scrapping the practice; the minority judgement by then chief justice J.S. Khehar and justice S. Abdul Nazeer upheld the validity of the practice and wanted Parliament to bring in legislation governing Muslim marriages and divorce within six months.
Soon after the apex court’s ruling, the government set up a ministerial panel to frame the legislation.
The discussion of the Bill in the Lok Sabha has drawn mixed views from experts.
Zakia Soman of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan said that Muslim women have suffered legal discrimination due to the lack of a codified Muslim family law. “Women of other communities have enjoyed legal protection but Muslim women have suffered; in this regard, we welcome the bill.”
However, Uzma Naheed of All India Muslim Personal Law Board believes that no one has really tried to study the sharia and as such there is no awareness of available options.
“The way the Bill is worded also creates a problem. There is talk of criminality which can cause problems,” she said. The board has staunchly opposed the Bill on the ground that it will ruin Muslim families and is against women’s welfare.
Aditi Singh and PTI contributed to this story
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