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Published On: Thu, Dec 28th, 2017

Muslim women’s divided on triple talaq bill passed by Lok Sabha

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triple-talaq-647_122817123912NEW DELHI : The Lok Sabha today passed the contentious bill making instant triple illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband, a development hailed by the government as “historic”. Several parties opposing it; its passage in the Lok Sabha was smooth given the big majority the government has in the lower house.

As the Centre’s ambitious bill that proposes to criminalise instant triple talaq was passed in the Lok Sabha Thursday, victory was declared on behalf of Indian Muslim women. But Muslim women’s groups are a divided lot.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e- biddat’. It gives power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children. A victim can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate.
While Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan (BMMA) welcomed the developments in Parliament and called it a “historic day” .
Making triple talaq a cognisable offence means the police would be liable to arrest a Muslim man accused by anyone (and not just the affected party, i.e. the wife) of the crime. Another Muslim women’s group which had intervened in the apex court case in support of the plea to outlaw instant triple talaq – on the other hand, called it a “black day” for Muslim women and Indian democracy.

Neither of the two groups, which have been at the forefront of the struggle to invalidate the practice, had been consulted by the government before drafting the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights in Marriage) Bill, 2017.

“It’s shocking that the bill has been passed by the force of a brute majority without any consultation with women’s groups,” senior advocate Indira Jaising said. “It is not our idea of justice to throw Muslim men in prisons,” she said, adding that she hoped that the bill was not passed in the Upper House.

A source in the Congress told that the party will try to refer the matter to a select committee for legislative scrutiny when the bill is introduced in the Rajya Sabha next week.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha and later wrapped up a debate on it today, urged the house to pass the bill “for the sisters of the Muslim community, for the dignity of women, gender equality,” rejecting allegations of political move by the ruling BJP saying, “We do not take decisions to garner votes. We introduced the bill after the Supreme Court called triple talaq illegal.”
Several parties that have opposed the bill abstained from voting in the Lok Sabha. Among them were the Biju Janata Dal, AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress. The BJD has 20 MPs, AIADMK 37 and Trimamool 33 in the Lok Sabha.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi sought six amendments in the bill. He has alleged that the bill “does injustice to Muslim women,” violates the Right to Freedom and that Muslims were not consulted in its drafting.
The Congress has emphasised that it supports “any move to abolish the Triple Talaq,” but has questioned the jail term provision asking how a man in prison will provide for the woman and children he has abandoned using the triple talaq. Congress would prefer a review of the proposed legislation by a parliamentary panel.
Sources said the main opposition party is likely to seek amendments to the bill in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority and so the opposition’s requests for changes are likely to be passed. The bill will have to be sent to a parliamentary committee for review and is unlikely to be passed in the winter session. Both houses must clear the bill for it to become law.
The Supreme Court had in August this year ruled that the “Triple Talaq” is unconstitutional. Muslim women had petitioned the court, arguing that practice of husbands divorcing them through “Triple Talaq“, including by Skype and WhatsApp, not only violated their rights but also left many women destitute.
“Only a law can explicitly ban Triple Talaq, we have to enforce legal procedures to provide allowance and protect custody of children,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad. MPs from the RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and All India Muslim League opposed the Bill, calling it arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal.

 

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