New Delhi: The government on Thursday took up the contentious Triple Talaq bill for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha. The bill seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband.

During a debate in the Lower House, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice as women are being divorced by ‘talaq-e-biddat’ despite an August 2017 Supreme Court verdict striking down the practice of instant triple talaq,

He said, since January 2017, 574 such cases have been reported by the media.

Ravi Shankar appealed in the parliament not to give this issue a political colour. “Don’t look at this issue through political lenses. This is an issue of justice and humanity… an issue of women rights and empowerment… we can’t abandon our Muslim sisters.”

Speaking in favour of passing the Triple Talaq Bill, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Irrespective of religion, all women are equal in the eyes of law. Why should Muslim women be left to fend for themselves? So many countries are bringing a law against Triple Talaq, then why can’t a secular country like India do it?”

Three ordinances have so 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.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 was tabled in Lok Sabha on June 21 by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad amid opposition members have demanded that wider consultations involving the entire spectrum of political parties should take place before its introduction.

The opposition is against the bill in its current form, contending that it would end up victimising Muslims. Even NDA ally Janata Dal-United (JD-U) is against the Bill.

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.

Prasad said to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a 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.

In a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself.

A provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”, the minister said.

(With PTI inputs)