New Delhi: The government on Friday introduced the fresh Triple Talaq Bill in the Lok Sabha amid vehement protests by opposition members who claimed that it was violative of the constitution.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 became the first legislation to be tabled in parliament by the Narendra Modi dispensation in its second term, with law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserting the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice.
The Bill was introduced following a division of votes, with 186 members supporting it and 74 opposing it.
“This is not a question of religion but about justice to women,” Prasad said.
In an attempt to justify the need to bring in the legislation, Prasad said there were 543 cases of triple talaq reported in the country. After the Supreme Court judgement banning triple talaq practise, Prasad said more than 200 cases were reported.
“This is a question of dignity of women and we are committed to (safeguard) it,” he said.
He said the job of the parliament is to legislate and it is up to courts to interpret the law.
As soon as speaker Om Birla asked Prasad to move the Bill, several opposition members rose in protest and Birla allowed them to put forth their point of view.
Shashi Tharoor of the Congress said he was opposed to triple talaq (instant divorce) but was against this Bill as it conflates civil and criminal laws. He claimed that it was a “textbook example of class legislation” as it was pointed at one community – Muslims – even though abandoning wives is not unique to it.
Tharoor said there should be a law universally applicable to all in the case of abandoning wives.
Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM took a dig at the BJP, saying it has so much affection for Muslim women but is opposed to the rights of Hindu women to enter Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
The Bill violates constitutional rights as it stipulates three-year jail term for guilty Muslim men while non-Muslim men get only one year of jail term for a similar offence, he said. N.K. Premchandran of the RSP also opposed the bill.
While the Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 on December 27, 2018, even after the opposition staged a walkout, the Bill lapsed after it was not passed by the Rajya Sabha.
Several opposition parties in the upper house argued for the Bill to be sent to a joint select committee for proper consideration, and not be “rushed through” before the 2019 elections. As a consequence, the Union cabinet approved the proposal to re-promulgate the ordinance making the practice of instant triple talaq a criminal offence as the earlier ordinance was to expire on January 22, 2019,
(With inputs from PTI)