The government on Tuesday appealed to the Opposition Congress to not insist upon amendments to the Triple Talaq Bill, which seeks to criminalise the practice of instant talaq, in the Rajya Sabha. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill is likely to be tabled in the Upper House on Wednesday, a week after Lok Sabha passed it by voice vote.
The Bill was tabled in Lok Sabha during the winter session and was passed without much opposition as the government enjoys a comfortable majority. The Congress had moved amendments to certain provisions of the bill in the Lok Sabha but did not push for a vote.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar urged the Congress to maintain the stand it took in the Lok Sabha by not pressing for amendments. “We are having continuous talks with the opposition parties including Congress. We have told Congress that since they have not pressed for any amendments in the Lok Sabha, they should do the same in the Rajya Sabha,” PTI quoted Kumar as saying.
Expressing Congress’reservations over the bill, MP Renuka Chowdhury said her party always stood for empowerment of women, right since Independence, but the party needs to see what has been actually included in the bill.
“There is no question of us not standing by anything that empowers women. There is no black and white solution to this, We have to see how the debate evolves… what is actually included and how is it implementable…. and until it is equitable for all women under all clauses of talaq. This is only talaq-e-biddat (triple talaq)”, Chowdhury said.
The government has been of the view that the practice of talaq-e-bidaat denied Muslim women the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.
In the Supreme Court, AG Mukul Rohatgi said that the practice should not be allowed as women have equal rights as men and the practice was in violation of those rights. The government said it was ready to bring in a new law to regulate the practice of divorce among Muslims.
Opposition parties like the RJD, AIMIM, BJD, IUML and AIADMK had objected to the bill and demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee but failed to rally together when it was taken up for voting. The Congress did not even give notice to oppose introduction of the Bill and the Trinamool Congress did not participate in the discussion.
AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi, who alleged “vested interests” behind the legislation, had said it was an attempt to demonise Muslim men. The Bill, he maintained, violated fundamental rights. Owaisi said while the Bill talks only about Muslim women being abandoned, the government should also worry about “20 lakh abandoned women of all religions, including our bhabhi in Gujarat”.
The Bill seeks to criminalise the practice of instant talaq, after the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment, set aside the centuries-old practice. The court had acted on a plea filed by six petitioners which included Shayara Bano, Ishrat Jahan, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, Gulshan Parween, Aafreen Rehman, and Atiya Sabri. After multiple hearings, the practice was declared void by the top court last year.