Triple Talaq Bill Sails in Lok Sabha, All Amendments Defeated; Goes to Rajya Sabha on Tuesday
MPs from the RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and All India Muslim League opposed the bill, calling it arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Lok Sabha. (Lok Sabha TV grab)
New Delhi: Moving closer to making instant triple talaq a criminal offence, the Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill. All amendments to the bill were defeated.
The government hailed the passing of the bill as 'historic'.
The bill would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or 'talaq-e-biddat'. It gives power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking "subsistence allowance" for herself and minor children. A victim can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate.
Under the law, instant triple talaq in any form -- spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp -- would be illegal and void.
The Congress said it supported the bill but wanted it to be scrutinised by the Standing Committee of Parliament, a demand that was rejected by the chair. The RJD and Samajwadi Party also backed the demand of referring the bill to the Standing Committee.
The Supreme Court had outlawed instant triple talaq in August and asked the government to frame a law within six months. Ending the controversial divorce practice was also the BJP's electoral promise.
Moving swiftly, the BJP-led government not only introduced the bill today but also got it passed by the Lok Sabha the same day despite its consideration and passage not being part of the agenda.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the bill as part of the listed business, had requested her to allow it to be considered and passed today itself, and the request was granted.
"We are going to create history. Today is the day to create history," Prasad said while introducing the bill.
He insisted the government did not intend to politicise the issue and the legislation was brought after taking a humanitarian view of it.
"This is not about siyasat (politics) but about insaniyat (humanity)," Prasad said.
"If it is a crime to bring a bill in the favour of Muslims then we will commit this crime 10 times," he asserted.
The proposed law would be applicable to the entire country except in Jammu and Kashmir.
Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM alleged that through the bill the government was trying to bring in a Uniform Civil Code. Owaisi said Parliament lacks the legislative competence to pass the law as it violated fundamental rights.
Owaisi said through the law the government was trying to demonise Muslim men and claimed "vested interests" were behind the legislation.
Seeking to allay their concerns, Prasad said it is wrong link instant triple talaq, the divorce practice which the Supreme Court struck down as illegal, with the Uniform Civil Code.
"Some are trying to spread fear that the bill is being brought to put Muslims behind the bars," Prasad said.
Prasad cited instances of Karimul Haque, a tea labourer in Assam, who was awarded Padma Shree for ferrying patients on his "bike ambulance", and Imran Khan, a Sanskrit teacher from Alwar in Rajasthan who was lauded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making mobile applications for students.
Not pacified, members of the BJD, AIMIM, Indian Union Muslim League staged a walk out.
Although Congress supported the bill, senior leader Salman Khurshid, a former law minister, said the proposed law is an intrusion into the personal lives of individuals, and would bring the civil issue of divorce into the realm of criminal law.
The Congress did not push for a division in the Lok Sabha on amendments moved by its MPs, nor did the party support any amendment sought by other opposition lawmakers.
Divorce and marriage comes under the concurrent list and both Parliament and state legislatures can enact laws on the subject.
The bill will now be sent to the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday for passage before it is forwarded to the President for signing it into law.
(With PTI inputs)
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