New Delhi: Amid a walkout by some Opposition parties, the Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Triple Talaq bill which makes the practice a criminal offence with a provision of three-year
jail term for the erring husband. The legislation, which replaces an Ordinance issued by the government in September, was passed by the Lower House of Parliament after the government asserted that it
should not be seen from the prism of politics as 20 Islamic countries have already banned the practice and not secular India.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill is a watered down version of the one which was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier and had got stalled in the Rajya Sabha.
It will now have to be passed by the Rajya Sabha to become a law and replace an Ordinance issued by the government in September this year.
Among the various changes made in the initial bill, the new legislation has a provision for bail and mandates that an FIR should be filed only by the aggrieved woman or a blood relative.
The bill makes the offence of instant Triple Talaq compoundable, which means that the case can be withdrawn if the man and his estranged wife reach a compromise, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said
while piloting the legislation. He emphasised that the bill was "not against any community, religion or belief."
The government brought the measure after a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court termed as unconstitutional the practice that allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives by simply uttering the word 'talaq'
three times in quick succession. There have been hundreds of complaints by the affected women against the practice.
Some Opposition parties, including the Congress, AIADMK and TMC, staged a walk out of the House just before the bill was put to vote as their demand for sending it to a Joint Select Committee was not
accepted. However, other Opposition parties like RSP, AIMIM and BJD did not walk out of the House but moved some amendments which were negated.
BJD leader B Mahtab appreciated the government for toning down the provisions in the initial legislation.
Law Minister Ravi Shanker Prasad, while strongly justifying the legislation, questioned why such a measure could be made into law when the country can have a law against dowry.
The minister defended the non-bailable clause in the bill, saying offences such as domestic violence and dowry are also non-bailable offences.
He said the proposed law should not be seen through the prism of politics.
Asserting that the measure was aimed at ensuring rights and justice to the women, Prasad said, "Twenty Islamic nations have banned Triple Talaq, then why can't a secular nation like India?"
"The Opposition's demand for a joint select committee has possibly only one reason -- Why it is criminalized? When Parliament has passed bills calling for harsh punishment for other crimes then why no one
said what will happen to families of culprits," Prasad said. The leader of Congress Mallikarjun Kharge said the bill should be sent to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament for a detailed assessment. He
suggested that such a committee could be asked to submit its report within 15 days. "This is a very important bill which needs detailed study. It is also a constitutional matter. I request the bill be sent to joint
select committee" he said. Trinamool Congress leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay also pressed for sending the bill to a Select Committee, as did AIADMK's P Venugopal.
Samajwadi Party's Dharmendra Yadav said Triple Talaq was a social issue and the BJP was trying to politicise the matter.
NCP's Supriya Sule also said that the issue was social and should not be converted into a political issue.
BJP ally Shiv Sena's Arvind Sawant used the occasion to rake up Ram Temple issue, asking the government to live up to its promise on it and bring an Ordinance.
CPIM leader Mohd Saleem said the bill was unnecessary.