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‘About women’s rights, justice’, Prasad says as Lok Sabha debates triple talaq bill

The triple talaq bill seeks to criminalise the practice of instant divorce among Muslim men and provides for a three-year jail term for those found guilty of following the practice.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2018 20:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Triple Talaq bill,Lok Sabha,Ravi Shankar Prasad
New Delhi: CPI(M) MP Mohd. Salim speaks as he participates in the Triple Talaq debate, in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi, on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (LSTV grab via PTI) (PTI12_27_2018_000106B)(PTI)

The Lok Sabha on Thursday saw a heated debate on the revised bill making the Muslim practice of instant triple talaq illegal and a punitive offence amid reservations by opposition parties against the proposed law.

Moving the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 for passage, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was not against any community or religion, but for “the rights of women and about justice”.

He added that 20 Islamic nations had banned the practice of instant triple divorce and asked why a secular nation like India could not do it . “I request that this should not be looked through the prism of politics,” he said.

Earlier, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said his party was willing to participate in a debate on the issue but demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee of the both houses for greater scrutiny as several provisions were “unconstitutional”.

(Click here for live updates on debate on triple talaq bill)

The AIADMK, the Trinamool Congress, the Majlis-e-Ittehad-Muslimeen and the Nationalist Congress Party also made similar demands.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, however, said an earlier bill on triple talaq was discussed and passed by the Lok Sabha. Therefore, members can flag issues during the debate. She said all of a sudden a demand cannot be made to send it to a committee.

Opposing the bill in its current form, Congress MP Sushmita Dev said the real purpose of the bill was not to empower Muslim women but to “penalise” Muslim men and added criminalisation of triple talaq goes against the Supreme Court verdict

Defending the bill, BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi on Thursday questioned if ‘Triple Talaq was part of the Quran and asserted that the issue was not about “he versus she,” rather it was about human rights violation.

“Our constitution talks about a uniform civil code and not a uniform religious code. Do we want to create a society where men have the sole right to divorce women whenever they want, a society where men can change wives like clothes,” she asked.

Terming the proposed bill “unconstitutional, against national integrity, and against Muslims’ personal law”, AIADMK’s A Anwhar Raajhaa asked why are Muslim husbands are being targeted.

“The bill fails to answer who will take care of the wife and children for 3 years,” he said.

Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the proposed bill is not to victimise anyone but to serve justice to Muslim women.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) member Mohammad Salim said a civil matter shouldn’t be treated as a criminal one

“This is a contract between two adults. This is a civil matter, don’t treat as a criminal one. This is one country, so the law should be one for everyone,” he said.

Attacking the Congress, Union textile minister Smriti Irani asked why it had not taken steps to ban the practice during its stint in power.

Opposing criminalising triple talaq, NCP’s Supriya Sule said, “Empowering women financially and emotionally will actually address the issue. This is not a law made for is, this is for women who are at the lower end of pyramid. So, this shouldn’t be criminalised.”

The politically sensitive bill, which seeks to criminalise the practice of instant divorce among a section of Muslims, provides for a three-year jail term for those found guilty of following the practice.

Tabled last week, it would supersede an earlier bill that the government had managed to get passed in the Lok Sabha in December last year. The previous bill sought to make instant divorce a punishable, cognisable and a non-bailable offence.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Dec 27, 2018 17:39 IST