Triple talaq bill clears RS hurdle as Oppn falters

Triple talaq bill clears RS hurdle as Oppn falters

Ravi Shankar Prasad

In a second straight victory for the Modi government in Parliament, the contentious triple talaq bill was passed on Tuesday after the Opposition’s efforts to send the bill to a Select Committee for review came a cropper in the Rajya Sabha.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019 makes divorcing a Muslim woman by uttering the word ‘talaq’ three times a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment up to three years.

This is the second time the Modi government has successfully generated cracks within the Opposition ranks to get a controversial legislation passed in the Rajya Sabha, where the numbers are not in its favour. The same happened with the RTI (amendment) bill last week.

The legislation managed to clear the Upper House hurdle after a tumultuous debate, at the end of which an Opposition motion to send the bill to a Select Committee was defeated as the AIADMK, the TDP and the JD(U) walked out, lowering the effective strength of the House, while the BJD supported the legislation. The bill was passed with 99 votes in favour and 84 against it. 

“Parliament corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice, will further equality in society. An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to dustbin of history; India rejoices today,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted soon after the bill was cleared. 

Responding to the debate, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said people in India were willing to support a positive initiative for change if the intentions are fair.

On the Opposition charge of Muslim women being left alone to fend for themselves if the husbands are sent to jail, Prasad countered it with a series of his own questions.

The law minister sought to know as to why such questions were not raised during the passing of the Hindu Marriage Act in 1955 that fixed 21 and 18 as the minimum legal age for marriage, the Dowry Act of 1961 and the introduction of Section 498A in the Indian Penal Code to protect the women from abuses from the family of her in-laws. Each of these laws comes with jail terms for the guilty.

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