The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday rejected the motion to send the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, commonly known as Triple Talaq Bill, to the select committee with 84 'Ayes' and 100 'Noes'. Early in the day, opposition parties like Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, AIADMK and DMK demanded 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 as Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad moved the bill in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. Prasad said it has been brought to ensure justice for Muslim women and should not be seen through a political prism.
Urging members to approve 'The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019', he said the practise of triple talaq is continuing despite the Supreme Court banning the same through its judgement.
Participating in the debate, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad alleged that the bill is politically motivated and the real objective behind bringing the Bill was destruction of Muslim families. He claimed that the objections raised by him have not been addressed and instead the government has done "cosmetic surgery".
Azad observed that marriage is a civil contract in Islam and it is being given a criminal face through the proposed legislation. He 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.
The Congress leader claimed that Talaq could be uttered thrice in anger like a curse, and may not be actually executed, and therefore, men cannot be punished for it. Triple Talaq according to Supreme Court is null and void, Azad said, wondering how Muslim men after staying in jail for three years will go home and live peacefully with their wives.
Accusing the government of being selective in honouring Supreme Court order, Azad asked Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad if he would implement all the minority judgements given by the apex court since 1947. He said it will lead to discord in Muslim families and society and if the government wants to listen to the Supreme Court, it should also bring a law on lynching and not resort to selective implementation.
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.
The Congress veteran said the government should not target one section by framing an "unconstitutional" law but instead provide 33 per cent reservation to women for their empowerment, the way Congress government had earlier brought in reservation for women in panchayats, corporations and local bodies.
Azad also accused the government of "double speak" and said empowerment is needed not only for Muslim women but also for Hindu, Christian and Jain women. He demanded that the bill should be sent to a select committee. Trinamool Congress member Dola Sen, Samajwadi Party member Javed Ali Khan also made the same demand.
A Navaneethkrishanan (AIADMK) claimed Parliament has "no legislative competence" to entertain this bill. Echoing similar views, Elamaram Kareem (CPM) said that the Supreme Court has already set aside instant triple talaq saying it is void and unconstitutional and nowhere the top court has said that instate triple talaq needs to be criminalised.
RJD member Manoj Jha claimed the bill is a "violent tampering with the Article 14 of the Constitution (equality before law). You want to demonise Muslim men. Don’t get the bill passed by managed majority". Tiruchi Siva (DMK) also alleged that there was a hidden agenda behind the bill and "one group is being targeted".
Prasanna Acharya (BJD) supported the bill but opposed the criminalisation of instant triple talaq. Ealier particiating in the debate, Amee Yajnik of Congress said through this bill, the government has thrust women into a criminal magisterial court for settling family matters. Sanjay Raut of the Shiv Sena supported the Bill, terming it "historic" and said it will impart strength to Muslim women. V Vijayasai Reddy of the YSRCP opposed the Bill.
Saroj Pandey of the BJP said that on April 23, 1985, the Supreme Court had given the judgement in favour of Shah Bano, but the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did not stand with the decision. TKS Elangovan of the DMK said he welcomes the Supreme Court order on Triple Talaq but opposes the Bill, terming it "faulty". Nazir Ahmad Laway of PDP also opposed the Bill. NCP’s Majid Memon said his party is unable to accept the proposed legislation for various reasons.
Supporting the Bill, nominated member Swapan Dasgupta said an attempt has been made to address Muslim social reforms through the proposed legislation. Narendra Jadhav (Nominated) also endorsed the bill.
However, after the four-and-half-hour-long debate on the proposed legislation, Parliament finally approved the contentious Triple Talaq Bill with by 99-84 votes. 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" offence, 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 inputs from agencies)