Triple Talaq Bill: The heated debate that LS witnessed

AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Budget Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Thursday, July 25, 2019. (LSTV/PTI Photo)

The Lok Sabha on Thursday witnessed an intense debate over the Triple Talaq Bill, which was passed through a voice vote, with the opposition charging the government of targeting one community with the proposed legislation and the government asserting the draft law is meant for gender justice.

The Congress and other Opposition parties demanded the Bill be sent to the Standing Committee for review, saying it targets Muslim community of the country.

The BJP, which had issued a whip to its MPs to ensure maximum strength in the House, had fielded its women members -- Meenakshi Lekhi, Poonam Mahajan, Aparajita Sarangi, to participate in the debate.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, seeks to criminalise instant triple talaq.

Against the Bill: 

Opposing the bill, Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) said there are nine types of talaqs in Islam.

Owaisi asked if the husband is jailed, as the Bill proposes, then how will he be able to pay the maintenance to his wife while sitting in jail. "You want to destroy the institution of marriage and bring the women on the road," he said. Owaisi said when the Supreme Court has banned instant triple talaq then why does the government want to jail Muslim man. In a lighter vein, he said, "We Muslims marry for one life, not forever and ever."

Targeting the BJP, Owaisi said if the government was so keen to give justice to the Muslim women, it should also think about the Muslim women who were "raped" during the 2013 Muzzaffarpur riots and yet there is no conviction in those cases.

"You brought law against Jallikattu (bull-taming) but failed to bring legislation against the mob lynching of the Muslims in different parts of the country," the AIMIM member said. Owaisi challenged the government to take all women MPs of the BJP in a special aircraft to Sabrimala, if the government is concerned about the rights of women.

Gaurav Gogoi (Congress) said the SC had not asked the government to make triple talaq criminal offence. "If you want to protect Muslim women who are divorced by their husbands, then you should also give protection to Hindu and Parsi women who are deserted by their husbands," Gogoi said.

Mohammad Jawed (Congress) alleged that the government's intent is not clean and it wants to sideline the Muslim community.

"I request the minister to send the bill to the Standing Committee for review and think of laws for separated women of all communities and not Muslims alone," he said.

He said more number of Hindu women are being divorced as compared to Muslim women.

Jawed also alleged this law is being formulated to jail Muslim men.

E T Basheer (Indian Union Muslim League) said the proposed bill was "unconstitutional, unwanted and ill-motivated".

A M Ariff (CPM) said he concurred with several members that triple talaq was uncivilised but he did not favour any legislation on the issue as the Supreme Court has already termed it illegal.

He said the intention of the government was to create fear in the minds of Muslims by bringing in legislations on triple talaq.

Opposing the bill, P K Kunhalikutty (IUML) said it is discriminatory in nature.

"If it is for Muslim women, why you did not hold consultations with at least one Muslim organisation," he said adding "why it is not convincing at all".

He said that according to the last census, the percentage of Muslim divorce is very minimal - 0.56 per cent, whereas in other communities, the percentage is high.

"It is your political agenda and nothing else. Why are you in a hurry," he added.

Jayadev Galla (TDP) said his party continues to oppose the bill as it criminalises triple talaq. He wondered what will happen in cases where men abandon their wives without giving talaq.

Galla said the bill is discriminatory in nature as it looks only at one community.

For the Bill:

Poonam Mahajan (BJP) said prevention is better than cure and the proposed legislation is seeking to do the same.

She said the bill is not about the empowerment of women alone but it is also in consonance with the government's motto of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas aur Sabka Vikas'.

Aparajita Sarangi (BJP) said the practice of triple talaq violates human rights. It is also the regressive notion of patriarchy which treats women in an undignified manner and there is no convincing logic in opposing the legislation, she said.

Meenakashi Lekhi (BJP) said the bill is not the agenda of the BJP, but it is the agenda of the nation.

The opposition parties are not able to digest the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, being a Hindu, is thinking for Muslims, Lekhi said.

She sought to scoff off the notion that the Muslim religion is in danger because of this law.

Lekhi said there were sharia courts running in Uttar Pradesh when Akhilesh Yadav (SP) was the chief minister.

This remark witnessed an argument between Yadav, currently a member of the Lok Sabha, and the BJP member.

Intervening in the debate, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said that if a woman MP is speaking, a male member should not interfere as it would not send a good message.

Lekhi said the government has shown political courage by bringing this bill and that the earlier government did appeasement to gain votes.

She cited that 22 Muslim countries have given up the practice of triple talaq.

"Why a section should be neglected and left to a community," she said adding somebody has to show political courage and this government has shown that. 

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