Introducing the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill – which criminalises the practice of instant triple talaq (or ‘talaq-e-biddat) – in Lok Sabha today, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the legislation is aimed at providing justice to women, and is not targeted at a particular community.
Under the law, instant triple talaq in any form – spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp – would be bad or illegal and void. According to the proposed law which would be applicable to the entire country except Jammu and Kashmir, giving instant talaq would attract a jail term of three years and a fine. It would be a non-bailable offence.
Before the Bill was tabled, many Opposition leaders, including Hyderabad MP and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, questioned the intent of the government and claimed the legislation violates the fundamental rights of even the Muslim women.
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1. Introducing the Bill, Prasad said it follows a Supreme Court order and called it a “historic day”. “Today is a historic day. This entire law is not related to any religion or faith, it is for the respect and honour of women,” he said.
2. “Today, few members are asking for the fundamental rights and this House must answer whether it will keep silent on the fundamental rights of the affected women’s honor and respect,” he said.
3. Defending the government’s decision to table the Bill, Ravi Shankar Prasad also mentioned that he heard an instant triple talaq case from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur “this morning early” despite the Supreme Court ban on the practice.
4. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was introduced after a voice vote following opposition by some members, including BJD’s Bhatruhari Mahtab and AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi.
5. Rejecting the government’s argument, Owaisi said, “This bill violates fundamental rights and lacks legal coherence.” He said it will lead to abandonment of Muslim women, and demanded a broader law which provides justice to two million abandoned women in India from all communities.
6. “This Bill is flawed. There are many internal contradictions in the Bill,” Mahtab said in Lok Sabha.
7. The Congress, meanwhile, said it is yet to decide its stand. Speaking exclusively to India Today, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily said, “We have not taken a view on the Triple Talaq Bill. We will study it and consult our allies about it.”
8. Moily said any sort of upmanship in matters like instant triple talaq should not be done. “After all, it is related to the rights of individuals. It is a very sensitive issue,” he said.
9. Parliament has to decide whether the victims of triple talaq have fundamental rights or not, he said after some oppositionmembers claimed it violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
10. The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ and give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children. The woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.