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If Dowry and Sati Can be Banned, Why Not Triple Talaq? Smriti Irani Asks Oppn

The Lok Sabha is debating the politically sensitive triple talaq bill which seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence.


Updated:December 27, 2018, 8:37 PM IST

New Delhi: Union minister Smriti Irani on Thursday hit out at the Congress over the triple talaq bill, asking why the party did not abolish the practice when it was in power.

“The Opposition said that this is a contract between two adults, so, I want to tell them that contracts can’t be broken unilaterally,” she said in Parliament. Irani added that if Parliament can enact laws to ban dowry and the practice of sati, it can also approve the bill to ban instant triple talaq.

Referring to a verse of the Holy Quran, she said the issue of instant triple talaq was also dealt by a 'khalifa'. When Mohd Salim of CPI-M wanted her to name the 'khalifa' she was referring to, Irani said she can even take the name of Hazrat Sahib but would want the opposition leader to chant 'Hanuman Chalisa'.

The Lok Sabha passed the politically sensitive triple talaq bill, which seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence.

Members from four parties — Congress, AIMIM, Trinamool Congress and the NCP — had demanded that the bill be sent to the Select Committee, claiming its provisions were unconstitutional and there was a need for a greater scrutiny of the draft law.

The proposed law suggests a three-year jail term for erring husbands, which the opposition parties say was not in the spirit of the Supreme Court judgment banning triple talaq. The apex court had last year declared the practice "unconstitutional".

Countering the opposition’s objections, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the bill is meant to protect rights of Muslim women. “This bill is not against any faith or religion. It’s about justice and equality for women. We passed an ordinance because acts of instant triple talaq are still taking place in India. Our intention is not to victimise anyone,” he said.

Prasad told the Lok Sabha that the bill has made the offence compoundable, meaning that the case can be withdrawn if the man and his estranged wife reach a compromise, and that only the wife and her close relatives can file an FIR, ruling out the law's misuse.

The law minister’s speech was continuously interrupted by opposition members who questioned why the government was not pro-active in protecting the rights women who want to pray at the Lord Ayyappa temple in Kerala’s Sabarimala.

The Lok Sabha had last week decided to take up the bill on December 27 after the Congress agreed to participate in the debate.

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