New Delhi: A fresh bill to ban the practice of instant triple talaq was tabled by Union Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad in the Lok Sabha on Friday.
Congress leader Shahi Tharoor opposed the introduction of triple talaq bill in the current state, saying, “it criminalises triple talaq and targets only Muslim men for practice already declared void by Supreme Court.” He added that the “scope of the bill should be extended to women of all communities and religion”.
The bill was also met with resistance from AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who said that the new bill won’t empower women. He said that the bill violated Article 14 and 15 of the Constitution, adding, that the government does not care about Muslim women. Owaisi also brought up the Sabarimala issue and questioned the government on the same.
Responding to the opposition, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “People have chosen us to make laws. It is our work to make laws. Law is to give justice to the victims of Triple Talaq.”
The Union Minister added, “Rights of Muslim women will be protected. It is about justice and empowerment of women.”
The previous bill lapsed with the dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha last month. Bills passed by the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha lapse with the dissolution of the lower house.
The bill, which proposes to make the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) a penal offence, had faced objections from the opposition parties which claimed that jail term for a man for divorcing his wife was legally untenable.
The government had promulgated the ordinance on triple talaq twice — in September 2018 and in February 2019 — as the contentious bill remained pending in the Rajya Sabha, though it was passed by the Lok Sabha.
Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, divorcing through instant triple talaq is illegal, void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision for bail for the accused during trial. These amendments were cleared by the Cabinet on August 29, 2018.
While the ordinance makes it 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 was added to allow the magistrate to grant bail “after hearing the wife”, the government had said.
(With PTI inputs)