New Delhi, Jul 25: The Lok Sabha on Thursday gave its nod for the third time in less than three years time to the much talked about draft law that makes the practice of instant Triple Talaq illegal with upto three years in jail for the husband.
Piloting The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad strongly defended the provisions of criminalising the act of giving 'triple talaq' and said "penal law will work as deterrent". Opposition members including Congress staged walkout with party floor leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury saying they were against such a legislation. The Congress members were led by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and joined by DMK members also.
Trinamool Congress members also staged walk-out over the three-year imprisonment for the husband in case of offence.'Three year imprisonment is excessive, arbitrary and irrational,' said AITC floor leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
There have been 574 cases of divorce of Muslim women by way of Triple Talaq since 2017, Mr Prasad said after heated debate on the much talked about draft law. "After the judgement, till July 24, 2019, there have been as many as 345 cases," he said. Put to vote, 303 members voted in favour of the Bill, as many as 82 of them voted against.
The Lok Sabha had passed it first on December 27, 2017 and also in December last year after the Congress and AIADMK members walked out.
Last year, 245 members of the Lok Sabha voted in favour of the Bill, while 11 voted against it.
Union Ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, who is also deputy leader of the House, were present during the consideration and passing of the Bill.
Responding to members, the Law Minister said the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice as despite an August 2017 Supreme Court verdict striking down the practice of instant triple talaq , women are being divorced by 'talaq-e-bidat'."There is a need to give more teeth to the law so that necessary actions are taken from the stage of FIR," the Law Minister said.
He justified government decision to issue ordinances as the earlier moves by the government in 2017 and 2018 could not get parliamentary nod.
A fresh bill was introduced by the new government on June 21.
Much to the chagrin of Congress members, he said - "If the then government had acted in 1986, then we would have been spared from the task of bringing this law today".
Passed by Lok Sabha twice, the Bill lapsed as the 16th Lok Sabha was dissolved before the Rajya Sabha could give its nod to the much controversial draft law - which has been opposed by several opposition parties including the Congress, the Left parties including RSP and the Trinamool Congress.
Bills that are introduced in the Upper House and are pending do not lapse with the dissolution of Lok Sabha, but the draft laws passed by the Lower House and pending in the Rajya Sabha, however, lapse. Compelled to bring the Bill into the Lok Sabha for the third time in less than three years as the draft law got stalled in the Rajya Sabha twice, Law Minister told the lawmakers in the House of People - "Is mamley ko siyashi chasmey sey na dekhe (Please do not see this issue of rights of Muslim women with political prism)".
Opposing the Bill strongly, Congress member Mohammad Jawed said, 'The bill only seeks to put Muslim man behind bars.' Mr Prasad, however, said to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial.
While the bill makes triple talaq "non-bailable" offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail. Referring to Mr Prasad's contention that the bill is being brought on the basis of Supreme Court judgement, Mr Jawed said nowhere the apex court has said that talaq words should be made a criminal offence.
Opposing the Bill, RSP member N K Premachandran said the government has brought in as many as three Ordinances on the issue. He alleged that apparently the government had "ulterior political motives" in bringing it. He also questioned how a personal law can be made a criminal law. BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi said laws will have to precede the changes and somebody has to show the political courage, adding that it was the duty of the state to make the law to bring about a change.
In this context, she referred to the country's first Prime Minister and said Pt Jawaharlal Nehru had himself said "creating a secular state in a religious country" was the biggest challenge for him. "Kya yeh dikkatey aaj Pradhan Mantri Modi ki nahi hae (Perhaps incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi also faces similar challenge)," the New Delhi MP said. P K Kunhalikutty of Indian Union of Muslim League (IUML) also said the government only had political intent in piloting the draft law. He demanded that the Bill should be withdrawn.
Vocal AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi said contrary to government's claim that the Bill is aimed at helping the cause of Muslim women, the draft law in public space for more than two years, is in effect anti-Muslim women.
Participating in the debate, several opposition members said if this law was being brought at the directives of Supreme Court and said in such a case, the ruling dispensation should have brought laws with regard to mob lynching and Sabarimala. (UNI)