Triple Talaq bill heads to Lok Sabha

Triple Talaq bill heads to Lok Sabha

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar is set to introduce a bill seeking to criminalize the practice of instant triple talaq among Muslims in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, is listed to be introduced in the House.  

The bill makes instant triple talaq or talaq-e-bidat in any form-spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp-"illegal and void" and provides for a jail term of three years for the husband.

The bill allows the husband to be fined and the quantum of fine would be decided by the magistrate hearing the case. It  would give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking "subsistence allowance" for herself and minor children.

The woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.

Sensing the mood of the Congress and other opposition parties against the move, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar on Wednesday asked all Opposition parties to help pass the Triple Talaq Bill.

The government's stand is that the bill is being introduced as the practice still continued despite the Supreme Court striking down 'talaq-e-bidat'.

However, Congress leaders have said they are unhappy with several key provisions, including the provision which seeks to "criminalise" the instant divorce practice, which was banned by the Supreme Court.

Senior Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Abishek Manu Singhvi have said they were "uncomfortable" with the "criminalisation" aspect of the bill.

Singhvi was quoted as saying that the government is using a fragile majority of the SC - which has not even remotely directed criminalisation of triple talaq - as an excuse to criminalise something which was till recently permissible under customary law.

"The objective appears to be more political than legal, and the consequences are likely to be pure harassment. At the minimum, a transition phase should be allowed before prosecutions start," says Singhvi.

The Opposition parties say they would press for the bill to be examined by a parliamentary committee before the House votes on it.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which opposes the proposed law, has requested Prime Minister Modi to withdraw the bill.  It has said the bill was against Sharia or Islamic law and infringes constitutional rights guaranteed to religious minorities.

According to the "Statement of Objects and Reasons" of the bill, which has been circulated among the members of the House, "The legislation would help in ensuring the larger Constitutional goals of gender justice and gender equality of married Muslim women and help subserve their fundamental rights of non-discrimination and empowerment."  

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