The Indian Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the instant triple talaq bill which criminalises instant divorce by Muslim men and seeks jail term for the guilty.
The bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha. In the Lok Sabha, 303 parliamentarians voted in favour whereas 82 MPs voted against the bill.
Several amendments moved by the opposition were defeated.
The clause in the bill which criminalises the practice with a jail term of up to three years for the husband was passed by a division of 302 in favour and 78 against.
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The JDU, TMC and Congress MPs staged a walkout from the House in protest against the triple talaq bill. The Congress and other opposition parties demanded the bill be sent to the Standing Committee for review, saying it targets Muslim community of the country.
Earlier, moving the bill in the Lok Sabha, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice and despite an August 2017 Supreme Court verdict striking down the practice of instant triple talaq, women are being divorced by ‘talaq-e-biddat’.
He said, since January 2017, as many as 574 triple talaq cases and since the Supreme Court order, more than 300 such cases were reported by the media.
Opposing the bill, Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) said there are nine types of talaqs in Islam. Owaisi asked if the husband is jailed, as the bill proposes, then how will he be able to pay the maintainance to his wife while sitting in the jail.
“You want to destroy the institution of marriage and bring the women on the road,” he said.
Owaisi said when the Supreme Court has banned instant triple talaq then why does the government want to jail Muslim man. Owaisi challenged the government to take all women MPs of BJP in a special aircraft to Sabrimala, if the government is concerned about the rights of women.
Gaurav Gogoi (Congress) said the SC had not asked the government to make triple talaq criminial offence. “If you want to protect Muslim women who are divorced by their husbands, then you should also give protection to Hindu and Parsi women who are deserted by their husbands,” Gogoi said.
A M Ariff (CPM) said he concurred with several members that triple talaq was uncivilised but he did not favour any legislation on the issue as the Supreme Court has already termed it illegal.
Poonam Mahajan (BJP) said prevention is better than cure and the proposed legislation is seeking to do the same. She said the bill is not about empowerment of women alone but it is also in consonance with government’s motto of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas aur Sabka Vikas’.
Meenakashi Lekhi (BJP) said the bill is not the agenda of the BJP, but it is the agenda of the nation. The opposition parties are not able to digest the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, being a Hindu, is thinking for Muslims, Lekhi said.
Three ordinances have, so far, been promulgated as a similar bill moved by the previous government could not get the parliamentary nod.
A fresh bill was introduced by the new government in June during the ongoing Parliament session.
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.
According to Sunni scholars, in jurisprudential terms, a man can triply divorce his wife at once, that is, just by saying to her, “You are thereby triply divorced.”
The Shiite and Sunni Disagreement
There is a disagreement between Shiite and Sunni jurists as to when a woman is regarded as being triply divorced. According to the Shi’a, the three divorces must take place separately, that is, in two of the divorces, the man should have revoked the marriage or re-married the woman, and have then divorced her for the third time. However, Sunni scholars believe that, in jurisprudential terms, a man can triply divorce his wife at once, that is, just by saying to her, “You are thereby triply divorced.” According to the majority of Shiite jurists, the utterance of this sentence will only result in one instance of a divorce, and according to some others, no divorce takes place with this utterance.