Opposition, Muslim law board up ante against instant triple talaq bill
The Congress and the CPI(M) questioned the requirement of an instant triple talaq law, while the BJD, the fifth-largest party in the House, opposed the penal provision of a jail term for husbands.Updated: Dec 25, 2017 07:27 IST
As the NDA government gets ready to introduce a bill in Parliament to criminalise instant Triple Talaq , leaders from Opposition parties said on Sunday that they were unhappy with several key provisions, and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said it would urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withhold and withdraw the proposed law.
The stance indicates another tussle may be in the offing on the floor of the House in the winter session, which has been acrimonious because of the Congress party’s demand that Modi apologise to former PM Manmohan Singh over remarks made about him on the campaign trail in the recent Gujarat elections.
On Sunday, the Congress and the CPI(M) questioned the requirement of an instant triple talaq law, while the BJD, the fifth-largest party in the House, opposed the penal provision of a jail term for husbands.
AIMLB spokesman Maulana Sajjad Nomani, after an emergency meeting on the issue in Lucknow, said: “The terms set out in the proposed bill not only encroach upon the constitutional guarantees granted to religious minorities but are also against the very essence of the verdict delivered by the Supreme Court on August 22, 2017 in instant triple divorce matter.”
He added that the Centre neither followed procedure nor consulted the stakeholders while giving shape to the bill.
The bill to ban instant triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, was circulated among members of Parliament last week—a procedural formality before its introduction in the House. Sources said the government may introduce the bill on Wednesday, when the House resumes after Christmas.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 criminalises instant triple talaq and imposes a prison term of up to three years and fine on husbands who violate the law. It also aims to provide alimony for the woman on whom instant triple talaq has been pronounced and grants her the custody of her children.
“The Congress stand is that the SC judgment should be followed in letter and spirit. However, using a highly polarised 3-2 verdict, and that too, with variation even among the majority verdicts, the government can’t and shouldn’t misuse that verdict as a springboard for significant expansion not even remotely contemplated in majority verdicts,” Abhishek Manu Singhvi told Hindustan Times.
In August, three of five judges of a Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court said the practice of saying “talaq” three times in one go – sometimes even over email and WhatsApp – violated women’s right to equality and was not integral to Islam. Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and justice S Abdul Nazeer gave opposing views and asked the government to bring a law to regulate the practice within six months. The majority verdict overrides the minority view.
CPI(M) MP Md Salim maintained that the government should spread awareness instead of bringing a law. “Is this the most pressing issue in the country? How many cases of triple talaq happen in the country? Islam doesn’t approve of triple talaq. The Centre must focus on issues like malnutrition among children, trafficking of women instead,” he said.
BJD’s Lok Sabha leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said strict penal provisions in a civil matter were uncalled for. “The three-year imprisonment for a husband who gives triple talaq to his wife is a point of concern. If the law is unnecessarily stringent, every possibility that it may be misused and not serve the purpose,” said Mahtab.
The government, however, justified the need for a bill. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the legislation circulated among members of the House says, “The legislation would help in ensuring the larger Constitutional goals of gender justice and gender equality of married Muslim women and help subserve their fundamental rights of non-discrimination and empowerment.”
(with inputs from Lucknow)
First Published: Dec 24, 2017 21:30 IST