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Opposition in Disarray, Govt Musters Numbers in Rajya Sabha to Make Instant Triple Talaq a Criminal Offence

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Rajya Sabha (TV grab: Rajya Sabha TV)

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in Rajya Sabha (TV grab: Rajya Sabha TV)

The triple talaq bill was passed by Lok Sabha last week. The ordinance and the triple talaq bill follow a Supreme Court verdict of 2017 declaring instant triple talaq as unconstitutional.

New Delhi: Making instant triple talaq a criminal offence, the contentious bill was passed in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday with 99 members voting in favour and 84 voting against. The bill follows a Supreme Court verdict of 2017 declaring instant triple talaq as unconstitutional.

The Upper House earlier rejected an opposition sponsored motion to send the bill to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee with 100 votes against it as compared to 84 in favour. While BJD supported the legislation, JD-U and AIADMK walked out, lowering the majority mark which normally stands at 121. The ruling NDA has 107 members in the 242-member Rajya Sabha.

The NDA was also helped by the absence of some members of SP and BSP as well as those of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and YSR-Congress.

The same strategy had helped the government push through the contentious amendment to the Right To Information (RTI) Act last week despite lacking numbers in the Upper House. Once granted assent by the President, the bill will replace an ordinance promulgated last on February 21 to the same effect as the bill.

Replying to a four-and-half-hour debate on the Bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad cited jail provisions in the legislations that ban dowry and multiple marriages by Hindu men to justify the three-year jail term for Muslim men practices triple talaq.

He said that legislation should be not seen through a political prism or vote bank politics, as it aims at ensuring gender dignity, justice and equality. "This issue should not be seen through a political prism or votebank politics. This is a question of humanity. This is for ensuring justice to women, dignity and empowerment to women and to ensure gender dignity and equality," the minister added.

As many as 574 cases of the illegal practice were reported after the SC judgement and 101 cases have come to light after the last ordinance issued by the government criminalising the practice, Prasad said in Rajya Sabha.

He said more than 20 Islamic countries have regulated triple talaq in various forms. "India is a secular country, but unfortunately for one reason or the other it could not happen," he said. The triple talaq bill was passed by Lok Sabha last week.