With 245 ayes and 11 noes, the much-anticipated Muslim Women Bill (Triple Talaq) 2018 has been passed in Lok Sabha on Thursday. The politically sensitive bill seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq among Muslim men a penal offence. The fresh Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 17 to replace an ordinance issued in September 2018. Under the proposed law, giving instant divorce will be illegal and void, and attract a jail term of three years for the husband. The fresh bill will supersede an earlier bill passed in the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha.
Early in the day, a united opposition pitched for referring the triple talaq bill to a 'joint select committee' of Parliament, claiming that its provisions were unconstitutional and there was a need for greater scrutiny of the draft law. Post that, the Congress, TMC, AIADMK and RJD staged a walkout after their demand was rejected by the government.
Speaking in the house before moving the resolution, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the triple talaq bill is not about politics but empowerment and justice for women.
Responding to the demand of opposition parties, including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, that the bill should be sent to a select committee for study, Prasad said the government has already taken note of concerns expressed by members earlier and amended the bill accordingly.
The Muslim Women Bill (Triple Talaq) 2018 has been passed in the Lok Sabha. pic.twitter.com/7ASFjcWRF3— ANI (@ANI) December 27, 2018
Prasad told the Lok Sabha that the bill has made the offence compoundable, meaning that the case can be withdrawn if the man and his estranged wife reach a compromise and that only the wife and her close relatives can file an FIR, ruling out the law's misuse.
"Don't weigh the bill on the scales of politics. This bill is not about any specific religion and community. The bill is about humanity and justice," the Law Minister said, urging lawmakers of different parties to speak in one voice to support the legislation.
The union minister further said that as many as 477 cases of triple talaq have been reported since January 2017 and cited a case where a professor gave talaq to his wife over Whatsapp.
Minutes before the bill was to be passed by a voice vote, the opposition sought a division and the bill was passed by 245 votes in favour and 11 against it. Several amendments moved by the opposition were negated by a division that was insisted on by opposition members. The lower house had been provided with four hours time to discuss the bill before it passed. The house has been adjourned for the day and is scheduled to resume at 11 am on Friday.
The Winter Session of Parliament had started on December 11 and will culminate on January 8, 2019.