Lok Sabha passes Bill criminalising instant triple talaq

New Delhi: Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 which criminalises instant triple talaq among Muslims and attracts a jail term of three years for the husband.
Cleared after a prolonged debate in the lower house with a majority of 303 votes this is the first time that the bill was tabled in the 17th Lok Sabha by the Central Government after coming back to power.
Tabling the bill Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “Law is not about religion or garnering votes, it is for women empowerment.’’
The debate witnessed a walkout by BJP ally Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) with the JDU maintaining that such bills create a “lack of trust in the society”. Two other opposition parties – the Congress and the Trinamool Congress – walked out after the voice vote. The bill now faces the Rajya Sabha test.
Calling the bill as “anti-Islam”, AIMIM Asaduddin Owaisi said: “Introducing a law will not eradicate a social evil on women. In fact you have done more harm than good. Why is the Centre not introducing a law against mob lynching. You brought an ordinance for jalli kattu. When a Muslim woman was raped in Muzzaffarnagar, no conviction was held. If you have any respect for women, send all women BJP MP in a special aircraft to Sabarimala.”
He added that woman should have the right to leave the marriage. “Will the husband give maintenance from jail? Why should the woman remain married to the husband who’s in imprisonment? The bill gives three years jail to husband, it is against the criminal jurisprudence. Instead you should put a condition that if a husband gives a divorce, then the amount of Meher will go to the woman. The marriage is a contract. This is not a “janam janam ka saath”. This life is enough. Muslims are not homogenous in India.’’
The bill, meanwhile, seeks to replace the ordinance passed by the previous government in February and Mr. Prasad speaking in the House said: “Twenty Muslim countries in the world, including Pakistan and Malaysia, have banned the triple talaq. Why can’t a secular India do it?”
The Opposition parties demanded that the bill be referred to a select parliamentary committee for discussion and debate.
Questioning the government’s motive in rushing through with the Bill K. Suresh of Congress said that the criminality clause may be misused by police and government. He also alleged that the government had kept the bill’s introduction “a secret”.
The Minister responded to this stating that the government had included certain safeguards such as provision of bail for the accused before trial.
`While the bill makes triple talaq a “non-bailable” offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail. A provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”,’’ the Minister said.
The Opposition also noted the Bill is ‘discriminatory’ as it sought to target only Muslim women even when the problem of abandoning-wives was not unique to the community. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that the crime is the desertion of wife without taking responsibilty. “Why is a law criminalising Muslim husbands?” The Supreme Court has already criminalized Triple Talaq so there is no need for this Bill. N.K. Premachandran (RSP, Kerala) added that the government is taking a minority judgement and considering turning the same into a law.

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