The controversial Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 which penalizes Muslim men for instant Triple Talaq and deems it “unconstitutional” and “arbitrary” was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday after opposition parties staged a walkout from the meeting.
The Supreme Court in August last year passed a judgment that Triple Talaq which allows a Muslim man to divorce his wife just by uttering the word ‘talaq” thrice or even by writing it, messaging it, etc. does not hold constitutional value. After this, the central government came up with a law to prevent the cases of Triple Talaq from happening. The law criminalizes the act of Triple Talaq.
The bill, proposed by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, will now be tabled in the Rajya Sabha. It states that the offender will incur three years of imprisonment and makes it a non-bailable offence with a few provisions. The provision for getting bail is that only a magistrate and not a local police officer can release the husband on bail. The bill applies to the whole country except Jammu and Kashmir.
The controversies surrounding the bill have not mellowed down since its inception. The critiques of the bill condemn the fact that it makes the offence a non-bailable one and moreover criminalizes it while it is a civil offence. The Congress, the AIADMK, the Samajwadi Party who comprised the opposition in the Lok Sabha demanded that the bill goes through a ‘joint select committee’, staged a walkout before the voting began.
“We agree that the bill is for women, but we have our objections to this bill. We do not agree in making instant triple talaq a criminal act. This government has made repeated attempts to misuse the Supreme Court’s judgment.”
“We agree that the bill is for women, but we have our objections to this bill. We do not agree in making instant triple talaq a criminal act. This government has made repeated attempts to misuse the Supreme Court’s judgment,” Congress’ Sushmita Dev said during the course of the debate.
Law Minister Prasad countered the opposition by saying that “all reservations raised by the opposition were considered for the Bill,” and that “this bill is not against any community or religion… This bill is for humanity and justice.”
The recent amendments in the bill are that it has become compoundable, which means that the case can be withdrawn if the man and his estranged wife reach a compromise, and that only the wife and her close relatives can file an FIR, ruling out the law’s misuse.
SheThePeople.TV spoke to Supreme Court lawyer Farha Faiz on the issue. Faiz said, “The Bill is satisfactory and is a good effort by the government in spite of having an anti-Muslim image. After the amendments, the bill has become very strong and reflects what the Sharia says. But it is unfortunate how the opposition parties reacted by walking out and repeating the mistake from the past i.e of 1986 at the time of Shah Bano. They are not opposing the law but misguiding the community. They only want to appeal to the 500-600 maulanas.”
“Congress said that the government is interfering with the religion. But the religion says that according to Sharia it is a heinous crime and if a man still practices Triple Talaq then he should be punished with 30 lashes. The Sharia also says that it is compoundable and the bill also now makes it compoundable. And if a man still is adamant and abandons his wife and children then he should be punished is what Sharia says and the bill proposes the same thing. There are no clashes between Sharia and the bill particularly after the recent amendments,” she further added.
It was on January 1st, this year, that the Law Minister proposed the bill in the parliament. However, the earlier bill received a lot of criticism not just from the opposition parties but also from the Muslim community itself. The community felt that the bill targets Muslim men and seeks to put them behind bars and does not secure the woman when the man is behind bars. The CJI JS Khehar-led bench of the Apex Court wrote off the practice, saying that instant talaq was not a part of Islam and violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.