Citing anecdotes and personal experiences, a united opposition in the Lok Sabha on Thursday made a strong pitch for referring the contentious triple talaq bill to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny contending that its provisions were unconstitutional.
Leading the opposition charge, Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha termed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill as divisive, unconstitutional, against Muslim personal laws and discriminatory.
“The aim of the bill is to create divisions in the society under the pretext of empowering women,” Kharge said insisting that the Bill be referred to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.
The Congress demand found support of virtually the entire opposition block that staged a walkout in protest on the conclusion of a four-hour spirited debate on the Bill that seeks to replace the Ordinance passed by the Modi government in September this year.
Kharge's demand for referring the bill to a parliamentary committee was supported by the NCP, CPM, SP, AAP, TDP, AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress. Most of the opposition members flagged concerns about converting a civil offence to a criminal offence, the lack of clarity about who will provide subsistence allowance to the woman who has been given instant divorce.
Firing the first salvo, RSP member N K Premachandran moved a statutory resolution opposing the ordinance route opted by the Modi government to enact the law. He contended that Bill was bad in law as it sought to criminalise a “civil wrong”.
The Bill has provisions for a three-year jail-term for a husband who divorces his wife through instant triple talaq, which was termed as “unconstitutional” by the Supreme Court in August last year.
“This Bill is not about empowerment of Muslim women, but to penalise Muslim men,” Congress member Sushmita Dev said.
Contending that the criminalisation of instant triple talaq went against the Supreme Court verdict, Dev also questioned the provision of subsistence allowance to the woman given instant divorce by her husband.
“In Muslim law, marriage is a contract. If a contract is broken, it is a civil offence. But under this Bill, that becomes a criminal offence. Today all you are giving her (Muslim woman) is a criminal proceeding without any subsitence,” Dev said.
NCP member Supriya Sule cited personal interactions with Muslim women, who told her that they opposed the triple talaq bill.