Modi Govt Managed to Pass Triple Talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha Despite Numbers Against it

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Muslim women participate in a protest rally against the Triple Talaq Bill, in Mumbai. — IANS file photo

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Amid strong criticism and protest  from the opposition parties, and in the absence of more than a dozen House members, the BJP-led  government on Tuesday finally succeeded in getting the controversial Triple Talaq Bill through the Upper House of the Parliament with 99 ‘yes’ and 84 ‘Nos.’

The Bill, The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019,
would not have been passed if AIDMK’s 11, BSP’ 4, TRS and JDU’s 6 and TDP’s two would not have walked away from the House paving the way for the passage of the bill indirectly.

The Opposition parties allege that the bill is meant to “target Muslim men” as it criminalises the instant triple talaq and it betrays “intoxication of power”. Demanding the similar bill for Hindu women, abandoned by their husbands without giving divorce, they warned that this legislation will create a rift between Muslims and Hindus.

Rejecting the legislation, Muslim women also dubbed the passage of the bill as the black day for Democracy while All India Muslim Personal Law Board announced that it may challenge the bill in the court.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tabled the controversial bill in the House with the argument that it is a matter of “gender justice, dignity and equality”,

“The Bill should not be seen from a political prism. It should not be seen as vote bank politics. It is an issue related to humanity…it is related to the dignity of the women,” he said while introducing the Bill and adding that “today daughters of India are achieving success in every field and the women can’t be left at the roads through triple talaq”.

However, opposition parties tore apart the minister’s arguments saying the bill is politically motivated and does not do any justice to Muslim women. Earlier, they also brought the motion to send the Bill to a Select Committee for scrutiny but it was defeated in the House by 84 ‘Yes’ and 100 ‘No’ votes.

Opposing the bill, main opposition Congress said Modi government is using triple talaq bill to target Muslim men as it provides for a jail term for a civil act.

Participating in the debate, Leader of Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad compared instant triple talaq with “maa behen ki gaali” while asking the government to send it to the select committee for wider consultation. Attacking the Modi government, Azad told the law minister that “Triple talaq bill betrays intoxication of power” which will create discord among Muslim families.

“Law minister sahib, if I use an expletive for you or I say that I will kill you. It does not mean anything if it does not happen. You will complain that I gave you maa behen ki gaali. But it won’t be an act. Pronouncing triple talaq (talaq talaq talaq) is exactly like that,” Azad said,

He argued that the Supreme Court had already made instant triple talaq as void act. He accused the government of creating a tool to sow the seed of discord among Muslim families.

“When they will come out of jail they will either commit suicide or become dacoits and thieves that is the intention of your bill.”

He pointed out harsh provisions of the bill saying police can arrest the accused even without a warrant and sentencing the accused to three years in jail for a void act but makes him liable for payment of subsistence allowance to his illegally divorced wife.

“Mr Law Minister, this kind of law could have come from your side only. None from this [the Opposition] side could have conceived of such an idea,” Azad said.

This law is [the result of] intoxication of power. It is politically motivated,” the opposition leader said.

Without taking the name of the Prime Minister, many opposition members demanded similar law for the protection of Hindu women whose husbands deserted them without divorce. Congress senior leader Digvijay Singh asked the government to bring similar law for abandoned Hindu wives whose number is more than two millions. “There are around 20 lakh Hindu women, will you bring about the law for them too? Or do you want to introduce this law only to create a rift between Hindu and Muslim people?” asks Congress’ Digvijay Singh.

He also warned that the passage of the bill will “only to create rift between Hindu, Muslim.’

Echoing similar sentiments, Aam Aadmi Party member Sanjay Singh also demanded a similar law for Hindu wives who have been living without legally getting divorce.

 “When the government will bring a law for those Hindu women whose husbands deserted them without giving divorce and child rapes cases increased by 82 per cent,” Singh added.

Samajwadi Party MP Javid Ali Khan also exposed the government’s “real love for women” highlighting the plight of deserted Hindu women.

Arguing against the bill, Congress MP Amee Yajnik said pushing women to court is not empowerment and who will take care of the kids.

 Yajnik questions the provision of a bill that allows a relative of the woman to file a complaint against the husband in the court. She asks, “How can you bring an alien component to speak into the family matter?”

Meanwhile, reacting to the passage of the Bill, All India Muslim Personal Law Board said it is contemplating to challenge the new law which violates the Constitution and intrudes the person law of a particular community.

Speaking to Caravan Daily, Board executive member Dr S Q R Ilyas said it is an attack on Muslim community’s religious affairs. He said the board is considering challenging it in the court as this piece of law has many loopholes and contradictions.

“The ruling BJP, which wants to impose Uniform Civil Code in the country, cannot do it because prevailing social conditions, therefore, it wants to do away the Muslim personal law bit by bit, and the latest legislation should be seen in this direction, “Dr Ilyas said and added that the law is meant to destroy Muslim family life and against the interest of Muslim women.

Board’s Women wing president, Dr Asma Zehara also condemned the passage of the bill asserting that it is unconstitutional and against women and designed to destroy homes and demonize Muslim husbands. She said that the government has no respect for the Muslim women and its “love” for them is bogus, otherwise, it would have consulted Muslim women before passing this so-called “protection of Right on Marriage bill” in the parliament.

More than 20 million Muslim women hit the streets against the bill but the government did not bother even taking their views into consideration, she said while speaking to Caravan Daily and termed the passage of the bill as “a black day for Democracy”.

Chennai–based activist A S Fathima Muzaffar said the Muslim women vehemently opposed this bill which was not meant to protect Muslim women but to destroy families.

It will be a burdening and torturing for Muslim women and it will grossly affect the whole Muslim society, she said while speaking from Chennai.

She termed the passage of the law as a ‘conspiracy ’which will intrude into the Personal law of Muslims and distort Shariah’.

Questioning the Modi government’s “love for Muslim women”, she said if they (BJP government) really want to empower Muslim women then let them give free education, employment, and reservation.”  They also need protection from communal hatred and mob-lynching, she added.

There is general perception in the community that the issue of Triple Talaq, disproportionally blown out by Modi government for its politicial expediency.

The triple talaq bill was the first draft legislation that the Narendra Modi cabinet approved after coming back to power in the Lok Sabha election which was passed again in the Lok Sabah on July 25 last week.

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