Landmark "Triple Talaq" Bill Clears Lok Sabha, In Rajya Sabha Next: 10 Points
The BJP has long pushed for a uniform civil code, which would stop religious laws operating in issues like marriage, divorce and property inheritance. Religious institutions were initially allowed to govern these issues to protect the independence of different faiths.
Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the bill on instant "Triple Talaq" in the Lok Sabha.
New Delhi: The Lok Sabha has passed a landmark bill that makes instant "triple talaq" a criminal offence and proposes a three-year jail term for a Muslim man who divorces his wife by uttering the word "talaq" thrice. The bill will now be introduced in the Rajya Sabha, possibly on Monday or Tuesday, where it is expected to face rough weather, with several parties opposing it; its passage in the Lok Sabha was smooth given the big majority the government has in the lower house.
Here are the top 10 developments in this story:
The government has called it a "historic day for India." Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a meeting of BJP parliamentarians this morning that he hopes the bill will be passed in both houses of parliament with the consensus of all parties.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha and later wrapped up a debate on it on Thursday, urged the house to pass the bill "for the sisters of the Muslim community, for the dignity of women, gender equality," rejecting allegations of political move by the ruling BJP saying, "We do not take decisions to garner votes. We introduced the bill after the Supreme Court called triple talaq illegal."
Several parties that have opposed the bill abstained from voting in the Lok Sabha. Among them were the Biju Janata Dal, AIADMK and the Trinamool Congress. The BJD has 20 MPs, AIADMK 37 and Trimamool 33 in the Lok Sabha.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi sought six amendments in the bill in the Lok Sabha and insisted on a division of votes or voting recorded on a machine on them to make a political point. He has alleged that the bill "does injustice to Muslim women," violates the Right to Freedom and that Muslims were not consulted in its drafting.
The Congress has emphasised that it supports "any move to abolish the Triple Talaq," but has questioned the jail term provision asking how a man in prison will provide for the woman and children he has abandoned using the triple talaq. It also wants some other changes in the bill, stating on Thursday that it would prefer a review of the proposed legislation by a parliamentary panel.
Sources said the main opposition party is likely to seek amendments to the bill in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in a minority and so the opposition's requests for changes are likely to be passed. The bill will have to be sent to a parliamentary committee for review and is unlikely to be passed in the winter session. Both houses must clear the bill for it to become law.
Already the government side is depleted in the Rajya Sabha, with the "Triple Talaq" bill being opposed by parties like the Biju Janata Dal and AIADMK, considered government-friendly as they regularly help it pass bills.
Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said after the BJP meet this morning that the government is trying to evolve a consensus on the bill to push it through the Rajya Sabha by talking to different parties.
The Supreme Court had in August this year ruled that the "Triple Talaq" is unconstitutional. Muslim women had petitioned the court, arguing that practice of husbands divorcing them through "Triple Talaq", including by Skype and WhatsApp, not only violated their rights but also left many women destitute.
"Only a law can explicitly ban Triple Talaq, we have to enforce legal procedures to provide allowance and protect custody of children," said Ravi Shankar Prasad as he introduced the bill on Thursday, noting that the practice has continued despite the Supreme Court order.