Rajya Sabha Passes Triple Talaq Bill, Modi Government Trumps Opposition

After a two year long trail of attempts and ordinances, the Modi government successfully managed to pass the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in Rajya Sabha with 99 to 84 votes.

Credit: Moneycontrol

Highlights:

  • Pronouncement of instant Talaq through words, spoken or written, and through electronic platforms shall be void and illegal.
  • Punishable offence: Imprisonment which may extend to three years and fine.
  • Married Muslim woman who face instant talaq are entitled to receive subsistence allowance for her and dependent children.
  • Married Muslim woman is entitled to retain custody of her minor children if faced with pronouncement of talaq by her husband.
  • Pronouncement of instant triple talaq is a cognizable and compoundable offence. Bailable only on the assent of the Judicial Magistrate as appealed by the married woman.

The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage ) Bill, 2019, commonly known as triple talaq bill, with 99 votes in favor and 84 votes against. The bill is now awaiting President’s final assent.

The Rajya Sabha’s nod to the Triple Talaq Bill proves to be a major victory for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) after multiple unsuccessful attempts to get the required numbers in the upper house of the Parliament. Soon after forming the government with a clear majority in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections in May, the NDA introduced the  the latest version in the Parliament replacing the earlier January ordinance.

PM Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulatory message.

Meenakshi Lekhi, national spokesperson for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and member of parliament, hailed it as a historic legislation.

The passage of the bill met with criticism by the opposition parties. The objections include various anomalies in the provisions  and bypassing the Parliamentary scrutiny process. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has its own strong reservations regarding the interference of the State in religious personal laws.

Timeline

Credit: Shipra, Ratul

Rajya Sabha proceedings: ‘Invisible’ Opposition

A cracked and absent opposition was a significant factor is the easy passage of the bill. First, the government’s decision to include triple talaq in Tuesday’s proceedings, late in Monday night led to the absence a number of opposition members who were not in Delhi. Five Members of the fourth largest party in Rajya Sabha, the Samajwadi Party (12) were not present for the voting.

Second, the decision of major opposition parties like AIADMK (13), Janata Dal-United (6), BJD (7) and BSP (4), to walk out during voting process helped the NDA floor managers to get a strong hold over the votes. Similarly, the absence of at least one member from other opposition parties worked in favor of the NDA.

Criticism

  1. Major flaws in the bill

Critics argue over the various anomalies in the provisions of the bill. One of the significant understandings is the way in which the bill provides protection and remedies for a divorce by instant talaq, which is illegal and void as per the Supreme Court judgment of 2017. Moreover, the illegality of instant talaq is stated in the bill itself which reinstates that the marriage is still intact and there has been no case of divorce.

 

  1. Criminalizing a civil law

By providing for punishment that includes imprisonment up to three years and fine as per the Judicial Magistrate, the bill criminalizes an aspect of marriage, family relations that are dealt under civil law. Another criticism for a harsher punishment, that too under the presumption that a divorce has taken place, is that the bill specifically targets and penalizes Muslim men.

  1. The question of social impact and women empowerment

The bill instant triple talaq illegal, but does not take into account the fact that triple talaq continues to exist in other forms like talaq-ul-sunat which are still exploitative of women in various ways.

The bill does not address the question of how a husband arrested for instant talaq would provide the wife with allowances while being in jail. These provisions in fact, would add up to the financial instability of the wife and children if there are no other means of financial support. It does not address the question of misuse of the provisions included.

Design: Shipra

The passage of the bill does not effectively act as a major move towards women empowerment and its social impact with respect to their independence still remains a larger question to address.

Reactions on Twitter:

AIMPLB has been staunchly criticizing the bill ever since it was introduced.

Mehbooba Mufti expressed her discontent with the state’s interference with religious personal laws.

Asaduddin Owaisi voiced his opinion regarding the constitutionality of the bill

BJP’s obsession with the Triple Talaq Bill

The clearance of the bill from Rajya Sabha was yet another example of the BJP’s scheme of getting things done and also a morale booster for the government. However, the impatient efforts of the government to pass the triple talaq bill is also indicative of the non-deterrence, yet contradictory  policy of the BJP when it comes to the personal laws of religion.

Critics also state that these are the indicators of the BJP’s motives towards a uniform civil code and the entire idea of majoritarianism that takes its form in such cases wherein the real cause of gender justice, in personal laws, merely becomes a pathway to push vested political interests.

(Coordinator: Sanket, Research: Sarasvati, Sanket, Ratul, Writing: Sarasvati & Sanket, Social Media: Ratul & Shipra, Infographics: Shipra & Ratul) 

Related Links:

President Ram Nath Kovind gives assent to triple talaq Bill

Mathura Registers Case Under New Triple Talaq Law

Triple Talaq from Reality: Abolition of the 7th century triple talaq won’t benefit women in 21st century India much