Lok Sabha on Thursday (July 25) passed a law making the practice of instant “triple talaq’ illegal and punishable with up to three years in jail for the husband. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019, popularly known as the “triple talaq” bill will now have to clear the Rajya Sabha hurdle before it can become a law.
The “triple talaq” ban is currently being enforced through an ordinance since a bill similar to the present one couldn’t be passed in the Upper House during the tenure of the 16th Lok Sabha.
Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the argument against 3-year jail term was specious and mischievous as it sought to side with the guilty. “Those who do not refrain from ‘triple talaq’ deserve to be jailed,” he said. “All the major Islamic countries had banned “triple talaq” and therefore it couldn’t be argued that even a religious ground existed for opposing it,” he added.
Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSR Congress earlier declared that they would object to the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
The new law provides for a jail term for Muslim men who can get an instant divorce by uttering “Talaq” thrice, which the opposition say is unacceptable and want the bill to be referred to a select parliamentary committee for further scrutiny.
The government contends that the bill is vital for promoting gender equity. Central ministers have gone public saying it is tied to the Prime Minister’s new motto of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas”.
Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday defended the bill to ban instant triple talaq, saying despite the Supreme Court striking down the practice as illegal and unconstitutional, several hundred cases have been reported.
Replying to the debate on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha, he questioned the opposition to up to three year jail term for the husband who gives instant triple talaq.
“When Hindus and Muslims are jailed under dowry law or Domestic Violence Act, no one objects. What is the objection in penalising the practice,” he said.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury opposed the penal provision ahead of the voting on the bill, saying the Supreme Court never asked the government to introduce penal provisions. “Present laws are sufficient,” he said.
Introducing the bill, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was about gender justice. “Twenty Muslim countries in the world, including Pakistan and Malaysia, have banned the triple talaq. Why can’t a secular India do it?” he said. “What is the problem with criminalising the practice? No one objects when Hindus and Muslims are jailed under dowry law or Domestic Violence Act,” he pointed out.