Triple Talaq Bill: Activists Disagree Over Criminalizing Offence
Triple Talaq Bill is currently the most talked about bill in the parliament. While the Lok Sabha passed the bill presented by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad because of majoritarian support, Rajya Sabha is having extensive discussions on the bill. The legislative order constitutes three years of imprisonment for offenders of Triple Talaq, made a non-bailable offence.
There are various arguments doing rounds in the media on the bill relating to its religious, political and social aspects.
TO CRIMINALIZE OR NOT TO CRIMINALIZE?
It is a huge discussion among Muslim women’s activist groups. The groups believe that criminalising the offenders will put several Muslim men behind bars and that is not what Muslim women want.
“I must confess that many of us are very concerned with the criminalisation aspect and the non-bailable offence because it will create more problems than it will solve. The SC has already outlawed Triple Talaq, which means that if somebody does this to his wife then that is not a valid divorce. But if you put the man behind bars, then what happens to her? You are leaving no scope for reconciliation or arbitration to get the family together. So I really think this requires far deeper reflection. Why? Because you have to take the community along if you really want change,” said activist Sadia Dehlvi to Times Now.
To counter it, lawyer Noopur Sharma said, “In India, there are civil matrimonial offences like dowry, domestic violence etc which are criminally penalized. So to say that should not be penalized, I don’t think so. Even after complete ban by the SC, Triple Talaqs have taken place, rendering women absolutely helpless. So yes, criminal punishment acts as a deterrent.”
She added, “The reality is that first we need to make sure that the ground reality is meeting the expectation of the SC. Civil matrimonial offences do meet with criminal punishments. When you speak of reconciliation, Union Government also discussed polygamy and Halala, but the SC did not want to entertain those pleas.”
Political parties are also presenting opinions to suit the agenda of their respective parties. BJP supporter, Shehzad Poonawalla, argued, “Why was the Congress president not there with a strategy about what they want to say to the people in the Lok Sabha? Today the debate is that the principle opposition party with its newly elected leader who is now back from a vacation—will he run with the gender empowerment road and hunt with the Muslim appeasement in Karnataka elections or with women empowerment in Gujarat?”
“The reality is that first we need to make sure that the ground reality is meeting the expectation of the SC. Civil matrimonial offences do meet with criminal punishments.”
One more interesting point of debate has come from advocate Rizwan Ahmed who asked why is there a debate over Muslim women getting maintenance while we never discuss Hindu women’s maintenance?
“Regarding maintenance, Dowry Act is an non-bailable offence with five years of imprisonment, then where was the maintenance of women? The government has passed so many bills like these and nobody ever thought of maintenance of women in general. Then why are we thinking about maintenance of Muslim women today?” asked Rizwan Ahmed.
He added, “Act 494—a person solemnising his second marriage, which is void, and if the first wife wants, then she can put him behind bars for seven years. You mean to say that a Hindu man will go behind bars for seven years for a void marriage but a Muslim man could not go behind bars for a void talaq for three years? It is laughable!”
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