The Lok Sabha passed the triple talaq Bill on Thursday, with 303 MPs in favour and 82 against, with many Congress MPs staging a walkout. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, bans instant triple talaq and makes the practice a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code.
Opposition members demanded that wider consultations involving the entire spectrum of political parties should take place before its introduction. Speaker Om Birla sought a voice vote and ruled that the Bill could be introduced in the House. But the opposition members continued to raise objections and pressed for a vote.
The Bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void and illegal. It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq as the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word "talaq" thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce. It makes declaration of such talaq a cognizable offence - where the accused can be arrested without a warrant, and liable to a punishment of three years imprisonment and fine.
The offence, however, will be cognizable only if information relating to the offence is given by the woman against whom talaq has been declared or any person related to her by blood or marriage. A woman against whom talaq has been declared is entitled to subsistence allowance from her husband for herself and for her dependent children. The amount of the allowance will be determined by a magistrate.
While introducing the Bill, Ravi Shankar Prasad said people elected the government to make laws and it was their duty to do so. He also said that parliamentarians should not become judges.
"The law is to give justice to the victims of triple talaq... as per information, a total of 543 cases of triple talaq came to light after 2017. Of them, 229 came after the Supreme Court judgment (declaring the practice unconstitutional) and only 31 after an ordinance on the issue was issued," he said.
Opposing the Bill, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen President Asaduddin Owaisi noted that abandoning a wife attracted up to one year jail term under the Hindu Marriage Act and sought to know why Muslim men had to undergo harsher punishment for the same crime.
"The Bill violates Articles 14 (equality) and 15 (against discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, race, sex, etc) of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has declared instant triple talaq void meaning the marriage does not end by such pronouncements. It puts the burden of on the woman while her husband would be in jail for three years for pronouncing instant triple talaq," he said.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, and Revolutionary Socialist Party's N.K. Premachandran also spoke against it.
The first Bill to be introduced in the 17th Lok Sabha, it was introduced to replace an ordinance issued earlier this year by the previous BJP-led NDA government. The Bill, which proposes to make the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) a penal offence, was introduced in December 2017 but was pending in the Rajya Sabha and had lapsed owing to dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month. The government had promulgated the Ordinance on triple talaq twice -- in September 2018 and in January 2019 -- as the contentious bill remained pending in the Rajya Sabha.
BJP ally Janata Dal (United) on Thursday opposed the Triple Talaq Bill which was moved by the government in the Lok Sabha and walked out saying there was a need to create public awareness on the issue with the help of Muslim community leaders.
With IANS inputs