In a major political victory for the Narendra Modi-led NDA government, the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the bill to ban instant triple talaq even as Opposition termed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage), Bill, 2019 as “unconstitutional”.
The upper house of Parliament also declined the demand that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee of Parliament for further scrutiny.
Participating in the debate on the Triple Talaq Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Left parties opposed the Bill. The NDA constituents — AIADMK and Janata Dal-United — also opposed the Bill and staged a walkout.
AIADMK’s A Navaneethakrishnan said the Bill will not stand judicial scrutiny and demanded that it should be referred to the Select Committee. “Muslim marriages are a civil contract and the offense of flouting a civil contract cannot be made into a criminal offense. The Bill is unconstitutional, illegal and not sustainable under the law,” he said.
The AIADMK leader said the practice of triple talaq has already been declared null and void and unconstitutional. Party members later staged a walkout.
JD(U) members also opposed the bill and walked out. Besides, Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, four lawmakers from the Congress and two from the Samajwadi Party also remained absent, thus tilting the number game in favour of NDA.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad questioned the government’s intention for bringing the Bill and said it was a “misnomer” and “politically motivated”.
“We are not against women’s empowerment but please don’t target a specific community. If you want women to empower, why don’t you bring the Reservation Bill? The Bill claims to protect Muslim women but the idea is to destruct Muslim families. I strongly oppose the Bill,” he said.
Calling the Bill impartial and unconstitutional, he said the government should also think about women of other religions, who are victims of divorce.
Claiming that the Bill was reintroduced after “cosmetic surgery”, he asked the government to refer it to the Select Committee.
Opposing the Bill, Trinamool’s Dola Sen urged the government to remove the draconian criminality clause from the Bill which provides to send the husband to jail for three years for pronouncing triple talaq.
“Will the wife not be allowed to re-marry for three years? What will she do once the husband is out of jail? If this government is really serious about women’s empowerment, bring the Women’s Reservation Bill. Please introduce the Bill which will benefit 60 crore women,” she said.
Urging the members to vote against the Bill, she said the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee for scrutiny.
“If you actually stand for women’s empowerment, send this Bill to a committee. If you stand for Parliament, send this Bill to a Select Committee,” she said.
SP’s Javed Ali Khan said that criminalising a civil offence shows that the intention of the government was suspicious. He accused the BJP of doing politics and said the Bill was brought for scoring political points.
BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra, NCP’s Majid Memon, and RJD’s Manoj Jha also opposed the Bill and questioned the government’s intention behind bringing the Bill.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage), Bill, 2019, popularly called Triple Talaq Bill, was on Tuesday introduced by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the Rajya Sabha.
The Bill that proposes to protect the rights of married Muslim women and to prohibit divorce by pronouncing talaq by their husbands has been passed by the Lok Sabha.
Introducing the Bill, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Bill should not be seen from the political prism and it should not be seen as vote bank politics.
“It’s an issue related to humanity…it is related to the dignity of the women…It is an issue of gender justice and equality,” Prasad said while introducing the Bill.