Triple talaq bill: Open to debate, but government must keep off religion, says Congress
The Congress on Thursday expressed its willingness to take part in the debate and put forward its opinion on triple talaq bill, scheduled to come up in Lok Sabha today.
Senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, however, opined that the government should not interfere in matters of religion.
“We will take part in the discussion and keep forward our opinion. We will appeal to the government that it should not interfere in a religious matter,’ the leader of opposition said.
“This is a very important bill which needs detailed study. It is also a constitutional matter. I request the bill be sent to joint select committee,” news agency ANI quoted Kharge as saying.
The Lok Sabha will discuss the revised bill which seeks to make the Muslim practice of instant triple talaq illegal and a punitive offence amid a reservation by opposition parties against the proposed law. (Follow live updates here)
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.
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 new law has three core provisions. One, the offence would become cognisable — which allows the police to make an arrest without a warrant — only when the “victim wife” or her “blood relatives” or “relations through marriage” lodge a complaint.
Unrelated individuals will not be able to bring a case before the police.
Second, the offence will be compoundable, meaning a compromise can be reached at the instance of the wife.
Third, a magistrate can grant bail only after hearing the wife. The punishment for the crime is up to three years in jail.
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”.