In a landmark move, Parliament Tuesday approved the bill that makes instant triple talaq a criminal offence, after the legislation was passed by the Rajya Sabha following non-aligned BJD extending support and NDA constituents JD-U and AIADMK, walking out. The 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. It earlier rejected an Opposition-sponsored motion to send the bill to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee with 100 votes against it as compared to 84 in favour. While the 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. The NDA was also helped by the absence of some members of SP and BSP as well as those of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and YSR-Congress.
Once granted assent by the President, the bill will replace an ordinance promulgated 21 February to the same effect as the bill. Replying to a four-and-a-half-hour debate on the bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad cited jail provisions in the legislation that ban dowry and multiple marriages by Hindu men to justify the three-year jail term for Muslim men practising triple talaq. To Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, who termed the Bill as a politically motivated move to destroy Muslim households with domestic fights, the Minister said the Congress leader should think of why his party could never win majority following the peak of 400-plus seats it won in 1984. When Muslim world is trying to reform, why can’t a democracy do the same, he asked. India, which is the world’s largest democracy, should have common law for all its citizens and triple talaq bill is certainly a welcome one, which will give more protection to Muslim women.