Shortly after the Rajya Sabha passed the Triple Talaq Bill amid protests from the opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today took to Twitter to celebrate the elimination of an "archaic and medieval practice" plaguing women belonging to the country's Muslim community.
"An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history! Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!" PM Modi said.
The Prime Minister also expressed his gratitude to those who had helped push the controversial bill through the upper house. "I thank all parties and MPs who have supported the passage of The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill-2019 in both Houses of Parliament. They have risen to the occasion and this step of theirs will forever be remembered in India's history," he tweeted.
The bill, which sought to end the practice of Muslim men instantly divorcing their wives by uttering the word "talaq" thrice, saw stiff opposition when it was presented in the Rajya Sabha. But many of the parties that opposed it -- including Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United, AIADMK and K Chandrashekar Rao's Telangana Rashtra Samithi -- ended up aiding the bill's passage. While the AIADMK and Nitish Kumar's party walked out, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi abstained from voting -- bringing down the majority mark. Several opposition lawmakers also gave the vote a miss. The list of absentees included Sharad Pawar, Praful Patel, four lawmakers from the Congress and two from the Samajwadi Party.
The bill was eventually passed with 99 votes in its favour and 84 against. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who tabled the bill, said: "Today is a historic day. Both the Houses have given justice to the Muslim women. This is the beginning of a transforming India."
The smooth passage of a second contentious bill within a week marked a change in the government's fortunes in the upper house, where it is still in a minority. Last week, the controversial amendment to the landmark Right to Information Act also made it through the upper house with issue-based support from non-aligned parties such as the TRS, Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal and Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress. The TRS and Biju Janata Dal, which initially opposed the bill, reconsidered their stand after receiving calls from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.
The opposition parties had demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee for further deliberation and scrutiny. They claimed that a three-year jail term prescribed by the legislation for erring husbands could be misused to target Muslims.