Triple Talaq bill to be discussed in Lok Sabha amid Congress din

The bill, seeks to criminalise the practice of instant triple talaq is headed for Lok Sabha on Friday. The bill has been listed for introduction in the Lower House of Parliament even as ruckus created by Opposition parties, including the Congress, have stalled Winter Session proceedings which started on 15 December.

‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’, prepared by an inter-ministerial group headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, makes giving instant triple talaq “illegal and void” and provides for a jail term of three years for the husband.

The bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet last week.

Though the bill has been listed in Lok Sabha’s agenda papers for tomorrow, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the bill would come up for introduction next week.

According to the provisions, the husband could also be fined and the quantum of fine would be decided by the magistrate hearing the case.

The bill which seeks to criminalise the practice of instant triple talaq is headed for Lok Sabha on Friday. The bill has been listed for introduction in the Lower House of Parliament even as ruckus created by Opposition parties, including the Congress, have stalled Winter Session proceedings which started on 15 December.

‘Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill’, prepared by an inter-ministerial group headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, makes giving instant triple talaq “illegal and void” and provides for a jail term of three years for the husband.

The bill was cleared by the Union Cabinet last week.

Though the bill has been listed in Lok Sabha’s agenda papers for tomorrow, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the bill would come up for introduction next week.

According to the provisions, the husband could also be fined and the quantum of fine would be decided by the magistrate hearing the case.

“At a time there have been incidents of violence against the Muslim community and no redressal available to them, this bill will give legal power to target the Muslims,” said Sadhna Saxena from the Saheli Trust. “The law is intended to fuel fear of the state by being able to walk into your home and incarcerate Muslim men,” said Ayesha Kidwai, a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Another activist questioned the inherent contradiction in the draft law that renders pronouncement of instant triple talaq void and yet sends the man to jail.

“When the marriage is not broken why send the man to jail. The law will make me a divorcee,” said Shabina Mumtaz, a social worker from UP.

She said that the government should instead offer protection to women unlawfully divorced by their husbands.

“If a woman or a man says I have divorced you is that a criminal offence under any law. It is not,” senior advocate Indira Jaising, who was also the counsel for Bebaak Collective in the Supreme Court, said, questioning the need to criminalise pronouncing talaq thrice.

The law also promises “subsistence allowance” as well as custody rights to a victim of triple talaq, which Jaising said was another contradiction within the law.

“The moment a divorce is declared null and void the woman has a status of a wife, and in her capacity as the wife she is entitled unrestricted access to the resources of the family and matrimonial home,” Jaising said.

Similarly, there was no question of custody of a child being granted to either party when the divorce has been invalidated, the senior lawyer said. Lawyer Vrinda Grover also questioned the rationale behind sending a man to jail for issuing a divorce.

“If the divorce is declared void what is the harm or injury caused to an individual, property or society for which a man is being put in jail. Afterall, for a criminal offence must cause harm or injury,” Grover asked.

Activists demanded that the law should ensure that Muslim men cannot seek divorce outside court. They also want the government to address other practices such as polygamy and nikah halala, where a woman has to consummate her marriage with another man before she can return to her former husband.

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