Lok Sabha passes Bill to criminalise Triple Talaq

Sunday, 31 Dec, 2017

A day after the Lok Sabha passed the contentious bill on instant triple talaq, the development was hailed by several Muslim women involved in the judicial war against the practice, with a rider that the government should have also banned polygamy.

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill seeks to "ensure the larger constitutional goals of gender justice and gender equality of married Muslim women and help sub-serve their fundamental rights of non-discrimination and empowerment", reads the quote from a statement given by Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad while informing the house. The Bill now goes to the Upper House of Parliament or the Rajya Sabha for clearance.

The bill was passed with most of the leading parties in the Opposition, including the Congress party, voting in favour of the bill, but with caveats. In its old avatar, it would have perhaps gone with the mullahs but this time around, it is caught on the horns of a dilemma and its spokesperson Randeep Surjewala has announced that the Congress supports the law of banning instant triple talaq but qualified it by saying that it believes that "there is a need to strengthen this law".

Bebaak Collective - another Muslim women's group which had intervened in the apex court case in support of the plea to outlaw instant triple talaq - on the other hand, called it a "black day" for Muslim women and Indian democracy. All kinds of instant triple talaq - spoken, in writing or by electronic means, such email, text message or WhatsApp - would be illegal and void.

The bill states that the commission will have government nominated chairman and members, and the board members will be selected by a search committee under the Cabinet Secretary. They said the bill's provisions could further alienate the Muslim community from the mainstream.

The only point on which the Opposition showed a semblance of unity was in its demand for sending the Bill to a standing committee for wider consultation.

Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen alleged that Government trying to demonize the entire Muslim community through the Bill and making a move towards Uniform Civil Code.

Conspicuously, none from the Trinamool Congress participated in the discussion. Party sources said the decision had to do with the party's electoral compulsions in West Bengal. He says the cooperative banks functioned like any other commercial bank and the principle of mutuality, which is central to granting exemption under Section 80P of the Income Tax Act, does not apply to them because their area of operations extends even to non-members. "There is talk of criminality which can cause problems", she said. He said the SC had asked the government to pass a law on the matter. It also provides for "subsistence allowance" to Muslim women and custody of minor children as "may be determined by the magistrate".