Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the bill to ban triple talaq, with the government asserting that the law was required as hundreds of cases of instant divorce have come to the fore despite Supreme Court striking down the practice.
Replying to the debate on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the law was also required to prescribe punishment for those violating it.
A move by the Opposition to stall the bill at the time of its consideration was rejected by a division vote of 303 for and 82 against.
Several amendments moved by the Opposition were defeated.
The clause in the bill which criminalises the practice with a jail term of upto three years for the husband was passed by a division of 302 in favour and 78 against.
The bill was passed by voice vote amidst walkout by Congress, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, DMK among others. The bill was passed by the 16th Lok Sabha but could not pass the Rajya Sabha hurdle.
Now the bill will face scrutiny of Rajya Sabha again.
Responding to questions raised by members, Prasad said 574 cases of triple talaq were reported since January 2017 and 101 after the issuance of an Ordinance in this regard.
The minister said despite the August 2017 judgement of the apex court, cases of instant divorce are being reported.
He said this was the main reason behind the proposed law.
He also questioned the opposition to jail term for the husband who gives instant triple talaq.
“When Hindus and Muslims are jailed under dowry law or Domestic Violence Act, no one objects. What is the objection in penalising the practice,” he said.
As a deterrent, the bill prescribes a jail term of up to three years for the husband for pronouncing triple talaq, he said.
On why the NDA government was coming out with a bill concerning Muslim women, the Minister said because the practice is prevalent in the Muslim Community and not in any other community.
Quoting a commentary by Amir Ali, Prasad said that even Prophet Mohammad was very much opposed to this practice and had on an occasion asked his follower to take back his wife.
He regretted that despite the explicit opposition to the practice of instant triple talaq in Islamic texts, “the House has to discuss it for the third time.”
The intention of those opposing the bill or those wanting it to be referred to the standing committee or select committee is to stall it.
He wanted to know why there was no opposition to provision of jail term in Dowry Protection Act and other personal laws concerning Hindus.
“Modi sarkar ghum-ghum ke nahi chalti, sidhe chalti hai,” he stressed. (The Modi government does not beat around the bush. It acts clearly).
He said that Congress could have banned this practice in 1986 at the time of Shahbano controversy but did not do so because of vote bank politics.
“Triple talaq is regulated in 20 countries. When it can change in countries following sharia law, why can’t in a secular country,” questioned Prasad.