Triple talaq bill in LS amid protests

Triple talaq bill in LS amid protests

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in the Lok Sabha conducts a proceeding during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi on Monday. PTI

The Modi government on Monday made a fresh bid to get a Parliament nod to a bill that seeks to make instant triple talaq a penal offence amid stiff opposition from the Congress which termed the move as “misconceived”.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, that seeks to replace an Ordinance promulgated in September, ran into opposition at the introduction stage itself with the Congress member Shashi Tharoor contending that he did not believe that the Parliament had the competence to enact such a law.

The Bill seeks to make instant triple talaq illegal and void and any such action will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. The Bill supersedes an earlier version passed by the Lok Sabha in December last year.

Facing resistance in the Rajya Sabha, the Modi government introduced some amendments taking into consideration some of the demands raised by Opposition parties. However, the changes failed to cut any ice with the Opposition following which the government promulgated an Ordinance in September.

Introducing the Bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that despite the Supreme Court striking down the practice of talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq) as unconstitutional, men were divorcing their wives on flimsy grounds and even via WhatsApp.

“The Bill conflates civil law with criminal law by criminalizing a wrong form of divorce and by criminalizing an act which is already legally null and void,” Tharoor said referring to the Supreme Court judgement of August last year.

The Congress leader claimed that the Bill was an attempt by the government to create a class-specific legislation on the grounds of religion instead of focusing on the larger issue of mistreatment and desertion of wives which affected all communities.

The law minister argued that the bill has been brought after due deliberations and the objections raised by Tharoor were baseless.

The minister said that the Bill was improved upon and was in the interest of the nation.

“The Bill has been brought to ensure protection of women. The Supreme Court has struck down triple talaq, despite that the practice is still prevalent,” Prasad said.