New Delhi: The Congress will scrap the triple talaq law if it forms the government in 2019, the party’s women wing chief Sushmita Dev said on Thursday.
However, Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the party had made its stand clear even before the decision was made in the Supreme Court, that it is opposed to the practice.
“Triple talaq does not have a place in this modern society. We have said that when you send the husband to jail, who will pay for the maintenance of the family. The society and the parliament has to decide that. We want an amendment to include maintenance for the family,” he said.
But Dev, addressing the Congress’s minority department convention here, alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pitted Muslim women against Muslim men through the triple talaq law and that her party will “scrap this law” if voted to power.
“A lot of people told us that women will be empowered if the triple talaq Bill is passed. But we opposed the law because it is a weapon that Narendra Modi has prepared to put Muslim men in jail and make them stand in police stations,” the All India Mahila Congress chief said.
“The Congress party stood up and opposed it in parliament. I promise you people that the Congress government will come in 2019 and we will scrap this law. But it is also certain that whatever law is brought for women’s empowerment, by whichever government, the Congress will support it,” Dev said.
The BJP strongly reacted to Dev’s remarks, saying Muslim women and the people of India will not forgive the Congress for its “perverted mentality”. It accused the Congress of following the policy of appeasement.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra stated: “What kind of mentality is this? This is only to appease. The people of this country are looking. Neither Muslim women nor the people of this country will forgive Rahul Gandhi for this kind of perverted mentality.”
“Look at the audacity of Rahul Gandhi? His party…to appease says that if we come to power, we will not care about the Supreme Court (and) we will ban the ordinance, the law and the Bill that the prime minister is trying to bring in consonance to what the Supreme Court has said,” Patra said.
Under the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 superseded an earlier Bill passed in Lok Sabha and pending in Rajya Sabha.
With the triple talaq Bill continuing to face resistance in Rajya Sabha, the Centre issued an ordinance in September last year, incorporating certain amendments.
The ordinance was re-promulgated last month as the first one was about to expire.
“Women should have right of life. Women should lead a life as anyone else in this beautiful country and beautiful democracy. This is why Supreme Court through a constitution bench struck down triple talaq,” Patra said.
The Centre maintains 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 opposition has said divorce cannot be made a penal offence and the provisions of the Bill are against basic principles of the Constitution.
CPI(M) senior leader Brinda Karat said the Congress is “confused” if it wants to amend or scrap the law. She said while the women’s wing chief said the party will scrap the law, the chief spokesperson said the party only wants to amend it. Karat said the Congress should first come to a consensus on what decision it wants to take.
“The law is discriminatory against Muslim men. There are laws to deal with desertion of wives. Those laws will suffice, there is no need to bring in another one,” she said. She instead suggested that people should be made aware of the existing laws.
Karat also said that the CPI(M) is opposed to the practice of triple talaq, but did not support the legislation put forth by the BJP-led NDA.
(With PTI inputs)