On the first day of Lok Sabha session, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government introduced a fresh bill on Triple Talaq also known as Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019, on June 21, 2019. The bill got tabled in the midst of stiff protest from the opposition who claimed that it was a violation of Constitution.
The Triple Talaq Bill 2019 seeks to criminalise the act of instant divorce among Muslims with three years of imprisonment for men. The bill became the first legislation to be tabled in Lok Sabha in the second term of Modi led NDA government.
Following the division of votes, bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday. While 186 members supported the bill, 74 members stood against it. The voting process was completed through paper slips as the newly elected members are yet to be allotted seats and division number in the electronic voting system.
Union Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha asserted that the legislation was about gender equality and justice. Prasad said, “This bill is not about religion but a question of dignity of women and we are committed to safeguard it.”
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad: We have always stated that Triple Talaq is neither an issue of religion nor of prayer nor of any other communal consideration. It is a pure & simple issue of ‘insaaf’ – women justice, women dignity and women empowerment. https://t.co/zfSA8YuIpG
— ANI (@ANI) June 21, 2019
While justifying the need of this bill, he said, “There were 543 cases of Triple Talaq reported in the country and even after the Supreme Court judgement banning Triple Talaq practice, more than 200 cases were reported.”
As soon as the newly elected speaker of the Lok Sabha, Om Birla, asked Prasad to table the bill, leaders from the opposition parties stood in protest and demanded for discussion. The speaker nodded his acceptance for this demand. The new speaker also got the first taste of ruckus in the House and intervened to bring the order. The speaker asked the Congress party leader Shashi Tharoor, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) leader N.K. Premachandran and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi to present their views on the bill.
Shashi Tharoor said that he opposed the practice of Triple Talaq which is already voided by the Supreme Court but was against the bill as it conflates the civil and the criminal law. He claimed that it was a textbook example of class legislation and it points towards only one community i.e. Muslim community. Tharoor said that there should be a law universally applicable for all, in case of abandoning wives.
Asaduddin Owaisi, the lawmaker from AIMIM said, “The classification is not in any way linked to the purported object of the bill. If you see the punishment, then a non-Muslim gets punishment for a year and Muslim would get for three years. This is against Articles 14 and 15,” Owaisi said in Lok Sabha, adding that the bill is also not beneficial for the Muslim women.
A Owaisi, AIMIM: Triple Talaq bill is unconstitutional. It’s a violation of Constitution’s Article 14 & 15. We already have Domestic Violence Act 2005, CrPC Section 125, Muslim Women Marriage Act. If Triple Talaq Bill becomes a law it will be even greater injustice against women. pic.twitter.com/khvMLGDnHG
— ANI (@ANI) June 21, 2019
“The bill will not benefit the Muslim women as it puts the burden of proof on women. The husband will be three years in jail then who is going to pay for the maintenance? Are you going to give money for the maintenance? This is against rational nexus,” he said.
Owaisi took a dig at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by raking up the Sabrimala issue and asking the government to show the same kind of sentiment for the Hindu women of Kerala. “Through this I would like to ask the government that they have all the love for Muslim women. Why don’t they have the same sentiment for Hindu women of Kerala? Why are you against Sabrimala?” he questioned.
The Bill was introduced in December 2017 but due to dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month, the bill lapsed as it was pending in the Upper House (Rajya Sabha). If a bill is presented in Rajya Sabha and is pending there, it does not lapse with dissolution of Lok Sabha. However, if its passed by the Lok Sabha and pending in Rajya Sabha, it lapses with dissolution of Lok Sabha.