The passing of the triple talaq Bill, officially known as the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, on the same day as it was introduced, without incorporating any of the suggested amendments from the political Opposition, and without consulting any of the stakeholders - the Muslim women activists who led the fight against instant triple talaq leading the Supreme Court to pronounce it "unconstitutional and void" in August this year - sets a unsafe precedent.
Initiating the discussion, Sushmita Dev (Congress) said that triple talaq was a regressive practice but there were apprehensions about its misuse against Muslim men as has happened in the marital rape law. It was passed after the House rejected a series of amendments approached by different Opposition members.
The day saw intense debate in Parliament over the Bill, and Union minister of law, Ravi Shankar Prasad, led the Centre's argument by defending the Bill, which was drafted in just three months after the landmark Supreme Court judgement in August this year.
Opposition parties demanded changes in the Bill and more consultations on it. Parties including the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) demanded that the Bill be sent to a standing committee for further discussions. "See the news report today of the plight of a Muslim sister abandoned through triple talaq", said Prasad. The Bill also seeks to entitle a woman to get the custody of her minor children as well as subsistance allowance from her husband in case he pronounced the Triple Talaq on her. All kinds of instant triple talaq - spoken, in writing or by electronic means, such email, text message or WhatsApp - would be illegal and void. "I would have expected the Bill to go to the Standing Committee before it came to the Lok Sabha", Jaising said.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 makes talaq-e-biddat (or pronouncement of "talaq" thrice by a man on his wife for instantly divorcing her) illegal and a cognizable and non-bailable offence. Recalling an anecdote of the Nehruivan era, Akbar said the country's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had during a conversation revealed that he could not reform the Muslim Personal Law because the time was not appropriate. The government, however, pushed the Bill through, as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepted the Law Minister's request to allow it to be considered and passed on Thursday itself. Congress acknowledged the need for a law (on instant triple talaq). He also alleged that this Government is pursuing communal agenda and it seems that it want to eliminate identity of Muslim in the country. The party was not in favour of the criminality aspect of the Bill, he said expressing apprehension that the resultant thing could be brutal like misuse of Defamation Act.
However, the Bill did face opposition in the Lok Sabha, with some parties calling it "unconstitutional" and saying that it lacked legal coherence.
"Instead of looking at civil remedies, the government is trying to look at criminal remedies", she said. "We want police and courts to give justice to these women", he said. "We know the reason for your anger".
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