The contentious bill to ban the practice of Triple Talaq saw a smooth passage in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday by 99-84 votes. Despite the resistance of Opposition parties across the board, the government had maintained that the Bill would ensure gender equality and social justice to women of the Muslim community.
Minutes before the passage of the Bill, the Rajya Sabha had even rejected the demand of the Opposition to send the Triple Talaq Bill to a select panel by a vote difference of 100-84
Law Minister moved the Triple Talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday for passage after the Lok Sabha passed the Bill last week for the second time. Prior to that, the Bill had been passed in the Lok Sabha in December 2017, during the first tenure of the Modi government.
Moving the bill, Prasad said the proposed legislation should be not seen through a political prism or vote bank politics, as it aims to ensure gender dignity and equality. He added that after the last ordinance issued by the government criminalising the practice, as many as 101 cases have come to light.
Opposing the contentious triple talaq bill, parties like Congress, TMC, SP, AIADMK, and DMK on Tuesday demanded in Rajya Sabha that the proposed legislation be sent to select committee for further scrutiny.
Most of the opposition members objected to the provision of criminalising instant triple talaq.
The Bill that makes a declaration of instant triple talaq a cognisable offense for which the police can arrest the accused even without a warrant was opposed by Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad.
In his argument, he alleged that the Bill is politically motivated to destruct Muslim families. He further sought to know if the government will provide sustenance allowance to women whose husbands are lodged in prison for Triple Talaq during the three-year period.
He said, "Will the government support the woman if the man is in jail? will the government bear the cost of her child's education? You are not ready to support the woman financially, but you are eager to put her husband to jail. I have never seen a law like this."
"You gave an example of other Islamic countries, will you also bring the law of slitting throats and cutting hands of other Islamic countries? Will you also bring dictatorship and ISIS? Our country is not in need to be a Muslim country. We Muslims are proud of our country, we have been living here for 1000 years, we were born here. We don't imitate any Wahhabism, Afghanistan, Syria or Taliban. We keep our secular, democratic ideology. Don't compare us with the Muslims of other countries," he added.
The Congress leader further accused the government of being 'selective' with the Supreme Court's order. Azad further asked Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad if he would implement all the minority judgments given by the apex court since 1947.
He said, "Mr. Law Minister, the Court has said that for the past 5 years lynchings have been happening in the country. The Supreme Court has asked you to make a law, but you did not make it. So where it is convenient for you, you take the support of the Supreme Court, where it does not suit you, you do not listen to the Supreme Court."
Opposing the Bill, he said a law should not be made to "finish one particular religion" and claimed that the "cat has come out of the bag", demanding that it be sent to Select Committee, which will see what has to be retained in the Bill.
Amid the heckling, TMC member Dola Sen raised the same demand. "Both Houses have passed 16 bills together in the current session and only one has been sent to select committee."
She said, "Just because an ordinance (to ban instant triple talaq) has been brought, it does not mean that it has been scrutinised... We have not become Presidential form of government or dictatorship... till that happens, let's function as Parliamentary democracy."
Talking about women empowerment, she said, "14% of the members in Parliament are women." She demanded that if the government is so keen on women empowerment then it should extend the session by one more day and bring Women's Reservation Bill as it would benefit 60 crore women.
Elaborating on why the bill should be sent to select committee, she explained, "The husband can be jailed for three years under the bill. Will that mean that women would not be allowed to marry for three years. How the maintenance will be paid."
She demanded that the criminality clause in the bill be removed and the bill referred to select committee.
SP's Javed Ali Khan made the same demand and accused the government of having a 'hidden agenda' in the garb of the Bill to empower Muslim women. He also asked the Law Ministry about the status of the group of minister on women empowerment formed in October 2018 which had to submit its report in three months.
He said one of the ministers on the panel had found a mention in the 'Metoo' campaign with allegations that he had exploited women.
"The (then) minister was the man of the match of the Metoo 20-20 match," he said.
AIADMK leader A Navaneethkrishanan claimed Parliament has "no legislative competence" to entertain this bill.
He explained that marriage in Muslim law is a civil contract and breach of contract (divorce) cannot be criminalised. He said that when Supreme Court has decided that instant triple talaq is null and void then it cannot be declared as offense.
Strongly opposing the bill, he demanded that the bill be sent to select committee.
Tiruchi Siva of the DMK also alleged that there was a hidden agenda behind the bill and "one group is being targeted".
Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, divorcing through instant Triple Talaq will be illegal, void and would attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
While the bill makes triple talaq a "non-bailable" offense, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail. In a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself.
(With PTI inputs)