Triple talaq Bill gets Lok Sabha approval

A contentious bill to criminalise the practice of triple talaq got the approval of the Lok Sabha on Thursday amid a stiff protest and walkout by Opposition parties and the NDA government’s ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U).

The Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 by voice vote after the members debated on its provisions for more than five-and-a-half hours in the House.

A move by the Opposition to stall the Bill at the stage of its consideration was defeated by a division of 303 votes against it and 82 in its favour. Several other amendments moved by the Opposition members were also defeated.

Read: What does Triple Talaq Bill hold for Muslim women?

While the Congress wanted the government to refer the Bill to a parliamentary standing committee for further scrutiny, several Opposition members while participating in the debate, demanded that the Bill be withdrawn.

The Bill will now be taken to Rajya Sabha for its consideration. 

It provides for handing down a jail term of up to three years and a fine to a husband who instantly divorces his wife by pronouncing talaq three times.

Replying to the Opposition members’ question as to why triple talaq was being criminalised when the apex court had already held it as null and void, Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad told the Lok Sabha, “Despite the Supreme Court verdict and the Ordinance, 345 cases of triple talaq have been reported up to July 24, 2019. There has to be some deterrence.”

He also rejected the Opposition charge that the government had brought the Bill with intention to target Muslims, saying the proposed law was meant to “render justice to Muslim women and restore their respect”.

“When Hindus and Muslims are jailed under the Dowry Prohibition Act or Domestic Violence Act, no one objects. What is the objection in penalising the practice of triple talaq?” he said.

“The Congress could have banned this practice in 1986 at the time of Shah Bano controversy but did not do so because of votebank politics,” Prasad said.

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