As the amended triple talaq Bill, which mandates imprisonment for violators, remains stuck in Rajya Sabha, senior Congress leader and Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev Thursday said the party, if voted to power, would scrap the law which criminalises the instant divorce practice. With the Bill stuck in Parliament, the government last month promulgated an ordinance banning the practice.
Sources in the Congress said Dev has already told the Congress manifesto committee that the party should promise repeal of the triple talaq law and revisit all other laws which criminalise issues in the civil jurisdiction. Dev is Lok Sabha MP from Silchar, which has a sizeable Muslim population, in Assam.
Addressing a convention organised by the AICC minority department in New Delhi, Dev prefaced her remarks saying she comes from Silchar, the population of which consist of 30 to 35 per cent people from the minority community.
“You are seeing the situation in Assam. The politics of division is playing out there. This government has brought such a law in the name of giving citizenship which has created a climate of division in Assam. The Congress is fighting against it. We will not allow any such law to be passed which is against the Constitution,” she said.
On the triple talaq Bill, Dev said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has brought the Bill and used it to divide Muslim men and women.
“Bahut logon ne hume samjhaya ki triple talaq Bill agar pass hoga tho mahila ka sashaktikaran hoga. Par humne us triple talaq Bill kanoon ka virodh isliye kiya kyun ki woh ek aur hatyar hai jo Narendra Modiji ne taiyyar kiya hai Musalman purushon ko jail me dalne ke liye aur thane mein khada karane ke liye (Many people told us that the Bill will empower women. But we opposed the triple talaq Bill because we feel it is yet another weapon prepared by Narendra Modi to put Muslim men in jail and take them to the police station),” she said.
Dev said many Muslim women had opposed the Bill and had taken part in a signature campaign. “Mai aap logon se wada karti hun ki Congress ki sarkar aayegi 2019 mein aur hum is triple talaq kanoon ko kharij karenge. Yeh aap logon se wada hai (I promise you that when the Congress party comes to power in 2019, we will scrap the triple talaq law. It is our promise),” she said.
Later, Dev told The Indian Express that there was no need for a law on triple talaq since the Supreme Court had already banned it.
“Our stand has consistently been that the Supreme Court has already banned it. So why you are bringing this Bill? Only to criminalise it. And we are against that. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 is already there which gives Muslim women her rights on divorce. When the Supreme Court banned instant triple talaq, we were the first one to say that we welcome that decision. This Bill is only about criminalising it. It is not necessary,” she said.
“We will not allow this Bill. We will repeal it because it criminalises triple talaq,” she said.
The amended The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 is stuck in Rajya Sabha after it was passed by Lok Sabha on December 27 last year. The Congress had then demanded that the Bill be referred to a select committee. In August, the government had brought amendments to the Bill after conceding to some of the Opposition demands to ring-fence the proposed law against misuse. It cleared provisions that complaints in cases of triple talaq can only be filed by the victim (wife) or her blood relations, and that a magistrate can grant bail with certain terms and conditions.