NEW DELHI: Parliament on Tuesday approved the bill that makes instant triple talaq a criminal offence after the contentious legislation was passed by Rajya Sabha following non-aligned BJD extending support and NDA constituents JD-U and AIADMK walking out. Lok Sabha had passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill last week and with Rajya Sabha now approving it, the practice of instant divorce by Muslim men will be punishable by jail term of up to three years. The Upper House passed the bill by 99 votes in favour and 84 against it. While BJD supported the legislation, JD-U and AIADMK walked out, lowering the majority mark which normally stands at 121. The ruling NDA has 107 members in the 242-member Rajya Sabha.
Once granted assent by the President, the bill will replace an ordinance promulgated last on February 21 to the same effect as the bill. Replying to a four-and-half-hour debate on the Bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad cited jail provisions in the legislations that ban dowry and multiple marriages by Hindu men to justify the three-year jail term for Muslim men practices triple talaq. The law, he said, was not being brought due to the Supreme Court ruling of 2017 declaring talaq-e-biddat, commonly referred to as instant triple talaq, unconstitutional. He said he cannot leave in lurch women who have been divorced by triple talaq via WhatsApp or other such means.When Muslim world is trying to reform, why can't a democracy do the same, he said.
Prasad said the bill should not be seen through a political prism as it is a matter of humanity, woman empowerment and gender equality. "More than 20 Islamic nations have regulated triple talaq," he said. Azad said the opposition has been forced to vote against the bill after the government did not accept their demand to send it to a select committee and make triple talaq a civil offence. The Bill was again passed by the Lok Sabha last week amid a walkout by several opposition parties including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress. The opposition parties say in its current form, the proposed law could be misused to harass Muslims and wanted it to be reviewed by a parliamentary committee.