The Lok Sabha today passed a bill that seeks to criminalise the practice of instant triple talaq. The legislation was passed amid protests from the opposition parties.
Speaking on the floor of the House, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the bill -- The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, said that "it was not about religion but about justice and respect for women".
Members from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), Biju Janata Dal and some other parties spoke against the introduction of bill.
The Bill seeks to prohibit "any pronouncement (of divorce) by a person upon his wife by words, either spoken or written or in electronic form, or in any other manner".
The BJP had issued a whip to its MPs asking them to be present when the Bill is presented in Parliament. As Lok Sabha debates this critical piece of legislation, here is all you need to know about the Bill:
- The legislation seeks to criminalise the practice of instant triple talaq, which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives instantly by saying 'talaq' three times in a row. The legislation follows protests by Muslim women who were divorced through phone, SMS and even WhatsApp messages.
- The proposed law seeks to make triple talaq a punishable offence and describes the practice as against "constitutional morality" and "gender equity". Anyone who pronounces instant divorce "shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and a fine", the bill proposes.
- The Bill, was prepared by an inter-ministerial group headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh. It makes instant triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat in any form - spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp - "illegal and void" and provides for a jail term of three years for the husband.
- As per the provisions of the Bill, the husband could also be fined and the quantum of fine would be decided by the magistrate hearing the case.
- The Bill is being introduced as the practice still continued despite the Supreme Court striking down the practice of triple talaq.
- The proposed law will be applicable only to instant triple talaq and will empower the victim to approach a magistrate seeking "subsistence allowance" for herself and minor children. The woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.
- The Supreme Court had termed the practice of instant triple talaq unconstitutional while considering a petition to that effect. The then CJI J S Khehar had directed the government to bring in a legislation in this regard.
- Several Muslim clerics and Muslim organisations have opposed the Bill, terming the government's stand as "uncalled for interference" in the personal laws of the community.
- The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) opposed the legislation holding it against the Sharia law and may potentially destroy families if made into a law. Asaduddin Owaisi said the bill violates fundamental rights and lacks legal coherence.
- Besides the AIMPLB, the Rashtriya Janata Dal has also opposed the Bill. Biju Janat Dal MP Bhartruhari Mahtab said the bill was flawed and had many internal contradictions.