The Opposition accused the government of “destroying the institution of marriage” and “divide and rule” by criminalising triple talaq through a Bill that was passed by voice vote in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
The Congress, TMC, DMK and others demanded the Bill be sent to a Standing Committee for further scrutiny, but the government rejected this saying it was an “apolitical” Bill meant to give Muslim women the justice that eluded them for 70 years.
Opposing The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi said that criminalising triple talaq does not make sense when the Supreme Court has decriminalised gay sex and adultery. “You want to destroy the institution of marriage and bring the women on the road,” he said. “Who will pay her maintenance once her husband is in jail?”
He asked that when the Supreme Court had banned triple talaq, why did the government want to send Muslim men to jail for it.
Targeting the BJP, Owaisi said that if the government was so keen to give justice to Muslim women, it should also think about the Muslim women who were “raped” during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. “There is not a single conviction in those cases,” he said.
“You brought law against Jallikattu (bull-taming) but failed to bring legislation against mob lynching of Muslims in different parts of the country. If you are so concerned about the rights of women, I challenge you to hire a special aircraft and take all the women MPs to Sabarimala,” he said.
After issuing a whip for all its MPs to be present during the discussion and voting on the Bill, the BJP fielded its women MPs — Meenakshi Lekhi, Poonam Mahajan, Kirron Kher and Locket Chatterjee — to speak on the subject.
Lekhi led the BJP’s defence of the Bill. Insisting that it was not on the agenda of the BJP but of the nation, she alleged that Opposition parties could not digest the fact Prime Minister Narendra Modi, being a Hindu, was thinking for Muslims. According to Lekhi, there were Sharia courts running in Uttar Pradesh when Akhilesh Yadav (SP) was chief minister. She said the government had shown political courage by bringing this Bill and that the earlier government resorted to appeasement to gain votes. She cited that 22 Muslim countries have given up the practice of instant triple talaq.
Gaurav Gogoi of the Congress said the SC had not asked the government to make triple talaq a criminal offence, while his party’s Jothimani said the BJP sought to divide and rule Muslims through this Bill. The party’s leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that existing laws related to domestic violence and dowry were enough to prosecute marital discord in Muslim families.
“If you want to protect Muslim women who are divorced by their husbands, you should also give protection to Hindu and Parsi women who are deserted by their husbands,” Gogoi said.
The TMC called the punishment clause “excessive, arbitrary and irrational”. “There is three years of imprisonment to husband… He is being asked to look after his family. Once a person will go to jail, how will it be possible?” TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay said.
RSP leader from Kerala N K Premchandran asked if the government, having brought the triple talaq Bill following a court order, would do the same on lynching.
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