As the first session of Parliament gathers momentum, Lok Sabha is going to witness two significant bills being tabled concerning women across the country today. While the Triple Talaq Bill tabled by the Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is almost on the verge of getting passed in the Lower House, a private bill banning the entry of women in the controversial Sabarimala Temple will also be tabled by RSP’s four-term MP N K Premachandran today.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 is all set to replace an ordinance issued in February by the previous BJP-NDA government. Despite being passed in the Lok Sabha in the last government, it got lapsed because of the dissolution of the government, and thus remained pending in the Rajya Sabha.
The bill bans the tradition of Triple Talaq in the Muslim community wherein earlier according to their personal law, husbands were allowed to divorce their wives just by uttering the word Talaq thrice or by emailing or sending messages over WhatsApp to them. Under the proposed law, instant Triple Talaq will penalize a man with a jail term of three years.
Law Minister Prasad had proposed a bill in January last year which was met with severe criticism from Muslim women activists and the opposition as it made Triple Talaq a criminal offense which was also non-bailable. He then considered the criticism and made amendments in the bill making it compoundable. This means that the case can be withdrawn if the man and his estranged wife reach a compromise and that only the wife and her close relatives can file an FIR, ruling out the law’s misuse. These amendments were cleared by the cabinet in August 2018.
Another bill which will see the light of day is the bill denying women’s entry into Sabarimala Temple. While this tradition was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last year after which many women tried to enter the temple leading to huge protests and outburst by religious flag bearers, it also became a major political agenda for national and state parties. It will be tabled when the private members business is taken up in the 17th Lok Sabha.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the review petition of the Sabarimala issue in October last year. The constitutional bench received a total of 19 petitions seeking a review of the Sabarimala verdict. Lawyer Mathews J Nedumpara, who represented Shylaja Vijayan, president of the National Ayyappa Devotees Association, made his submission to the bench. The bench made his petition the lead petition in the case.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the review petition of the Sabarimala issue in October last year. The constitutional bench received a total of 19 petitions seeking a review of the Sabarimala verdict.
In a historic move, the SC in September last year removed the ban on women between the age group of 10-50 years to enter the Sabarimala temple. This decision sent cheers to the women devotees of Lord Ayyappa as they decided to trek to the hill shrine when it opened in the first week of October.
While Premachandran will table the bill, it does not guarantee if the bill will be taken up in the Lok Sabha until the draw of lots from nine listed private member bills includes it. The bills that would be presented on June 21 would be taken up for discussion only on July 12.
According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of Premachandran’s Bill, the change in tradition and customs without taking into confidence the special class devotees of Sabarimala temple was not as per constitutional provisions. It argued that the apex court ruling was a violation of Articles 25 and 26, which deals with freedom to practice any religion and the right of any religious denominations to manage its own affairs, and “created unrest in the mind of devotees,” it said, Deccan Herald reported.
Picture credit- India TV