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Lok Sabha Passes Triple Talaq Bill Amid Oppn Walkout; Crucial Rajya Sabha Test Ahead

The fresh Bill to make the practice of triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 17 to replace an ordinance issued in September.

Debayan Roy |

Updated:December 27, 2018, 11:25 PM IST
Lok Sabha Passes Triple Talaq Bill Amid Oppn Walkout; Crucial Rajya Sabha Test Ahead
Muslim women protesting against the Triple Talaq Bill.
New Delhi: The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, which seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq a penal offence, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday amid walkout by the opposition parties.

The government had considered a law on it after the Supreme Court said in August last year that the traditional method of Muslim men instantly divorcing their wives by uttering "Talaq" thrice was "unconstitutional" and "arbitrary".

The bill, which will now go to the Rajya Sabha, proposes that instant Triple Talaq will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. It also has a provision that only empowers a magistrate and not a local police officer to release the husband on bail. The proposed law would be applicable to the entire country, except in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Congress, the AIADMK, the Samajwadi Party, which had been demanding that the bill be referred to a 'joint select committee', staged a walkout before the voting began.

The Congress and others opposing the bill were against criminalising the act of divorce which was "civil" in nature .

"We agree that the bill is for women, but we have our objections to this bill. We do not agree in making instant triple talaq a criminal act. This government has made repeated attempts to misuse the Supreme Court's judgment," Congress' Sushmita Dev said during the course of debate.

During the debate, Union minister Smriti Irani said that if dowry can be criminalised then why not triple talaq.

She also said that if a contract is being cancelled, it cannot be done unilaterally. And if it is cancelled, there are repercussions.

However, the strongest pitch for the bill was made by Law Minister Prasad who said that "all reservations raised by the opposition were considered for the Bill", and that "this bill is not against any community or religion... This bill is for humanity and justice”.

Allaying fears, Law Minister Prasad said 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.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge appealed to the government to refrain from interfering in religious matters.

"The government shouldn't interfere in religious matters," Kharge said, citing Article 25 of the Constitution on 'freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion'.

The government, he said, is interfering in every religious matter.

The bill got its shape after a the then CJI JS Khehar- led bench of the Supreme Court in 2017 struck off the practice of triple talaq and stated that the practice of instant talaq was not a part of Islam and violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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