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‘Triple Talaq bill not against any religion,’ says Prasad as debate begins in Lok Sabha

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

india Updated: Dec 27, 2018 15:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Triple talaq,Lok sabha,BJp
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has issued a whip to its Lok Sabha members asking them to be present on Thursday when Parliament’s winter session will resume. (PTI Photo)

The Lok Sabha began debate on the the revised bill on Thursday to make the Muslim practice of instant triple talaq illegal and a punitive offence amid a reservation by opposition parties against the proposed law . Introducing the bill Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was not against any community or religion.

“This bill is not against any community, religion or belief. This bill is for the rights of women and about justice ,” the minsiter said.

Prasad 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.

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

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, an idea which was also backed by the Trinamool Congress.

Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, 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.

The politically sensitive bill, which was tabled last week, 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.

Watch:Interference in religious matters violates the Constitution, says Mallikarjun Kharge

The government was forced to issue an ordinance or executive order to criminalise the practice in September 2018 after failing to have the earlier bill passed in the Rajya Sabha. The revised bill includes bail provisions as part of attempts to soften some aspects of the proposed law.

The Supreme Court had banned the instant divorce, calling the practice “unconstitutional” in August 2017.

Opposition Congress leader Shashi Tharoor last week opposed the fresh bill saying “it has no procedural safeguards to prevent its misuse”. He said the bill “conflates civil law with criminal law by criminalising a wrong form of divorce and by criminalising an act which is already legally null and void”.

Tharoor called the proposed law “an attempt in creating a class-specific legislation on the grounds of religion, instead of focusing on the larger issue of mistreatment and desertion of wives and dependents”.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has issued a whip to its Lok Sabha members asking them to be present on Thursday when Parliament’s winter session will resume.

The whip followed Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s announcement that the central government would push the triple talaq bill. The whip indicated the government’s intent to pass the bill even as many Opposition parties have serious reservations about it.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), which is the apex body of Muslims on religious issues, regards the bill as interference in ‘shariat laws’ and maintains that it is also against the interests of women and children.

Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu met a delegation of the body’s members on Monday and assured them all support in their fight against the proposed bill.

The delegation accused the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to get political mileage by changing the Muslim marriage system which has been in practice for the past 1400 years. They said a majority of political parties are opposing the bill. They said that the bill is a violation of human rights and is also against the principles of the Constitution.

First Published: Dec 27, 2018 09:22 IST