(Photo: AFP)
(Photo: AFP)

Lok Sabha passes bill banning triple talaq amid JD(U), Opposition protests

  • A key bone of contention—the clause which criminalizes the practice—was passed by a 302-78 division of vote
  • The bill, which replaces an ordinance promulgated in February, will now have to be passed in the Rajya Sabha where the NDA is in a minority

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill to ban triple talaq with Opposition protests joined by the ruling National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA’s) Bihar coalition partner Janata Dal (United), or JD(U).

The Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 by a voice vote, after defeating several amendments moved by Opposition members. Members of JD(U) and key opposition parties, including the Congress party, staged a walkout.

A key bone of contention—the clause which criminalizes the practice with a jail term for the husband for up to three years—was passed by a 302-78 division of vote.

“Some people have more interest in stalling the bill than sending it for scrutiny...why did the Congress’ leg start shaking (an allusion to fear or doubts) when in 1986 they had a strength of over 400 to support Shah Bano. From her to Shayara Bano, this has been their journey which is to oppose the bill on the basis of vote bank," Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, responding to the debate.

The bill, which replaces an ordinance promulgated in February, will now have to be passed in the Rajya Sabha where the NDA is in a minority. The government has pitched the piece of legislation as its attempt 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.

“They accuse us of appeasement, but it is actually they who are indulging in appeasing the Muslim women. Their intent is that whoever is weak, minority or Muslims, they should be subdued and pushed to one corner to ensure that their rule continues undisturbed," Mohammad Jawed, Congress member of Parliament from Kishanganj, Bihar said during the debate.

Several members of the Opposition, including Jawed, had demanded sending the bill to a standing committee mainly on the grounds that it criminalizes the act and discriminates against the Muslim community. They also questioned the Union government’s intent behind the “hasty" passage of the bill while other pressing issues like cases of mob lynching were not being dealt with.

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