The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, commonly known as the Triple Talaq Bill, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday despite opposition from Congress member Shashi Tharoor, and amid protests over the Rafale controversy. An ordinance to make triple talaq a criminal offence had been passed on September 19.
This bill makes giving triple talaq void and illegal, and is punishable by up to three years imprisonment for the man. The bill, if passed, makes it a penal offence. But Tharoor opposed the bill, claiming it was targeted at a particular religion and hence unconstitutional. “An attempt at creating a class-specific legislation on the grounds of religion. Instead of focussing on the larger issue of mistreatment and desertion of wives and dependents, which affects all communities, this bill is couched in terms of a specific religion. Therefore it is a violation Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution,” he said.
Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and Article 16 offers equality of opportunity in matters of public employment.
“The bill has no procedural safeguards to prevent its misuse. It is therefore manifestly arbitrary, and therefore is a violation of Articles 14 (Equality before law) and 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution,” he further said.
He then called the bill “misconceived,” and said that Parliament did not have the competence to enact the same.
“And finally, the Parliament does not have the legislative competence to enact any law which is inconsistent with Part III of the Constitution in light of Article 13(2). So I do believe that the bill is a misconceived bill that should not be brought to the House. I do not believe that Parliament has the competence to enact such a bill,” he saiArticle 13(2) of the Constitution says that the “State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this Part and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void.”
Tharoor's objections, however, were rejected by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
“Supreme Court said this was wrong, unlawful, unconstitutional. Despite this, triple talaq was being given in the Parliament. Our Muslim women were worried. “Talaq, talaq, talaq” was said once and marriages were broken. Talaq over WhatsApp, talaq if the roti was not cooked properly. That’s why, after deliberations, the bill has been brought in,” Ravi Shankar said.
"The bill was brought in as per the direction of the Supreme Court to protect the rights of Muslim women. Several Muslim women suffered due to instant talaq. This bill is in the nation's interest and constitutional. The objection is baseless," Ravi Shankar Prasad said before introducing the bill.
The government could not pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha during the previous monsoon session.
With IANS inputs