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.
- 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.
An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history!
Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society.
India rejoices today!
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 30, 2019
Meenakshi Lekhi, national spokesperson for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and member of parliament, hailed it as a historic legislation.
India creates history, passes legislation against Triple Talaq .
Mubarak, Badhai, Congratulations to BMMA, Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan 4 fighting the battle and winning it to. Dedicated to the memories of greats like CJ Chagla,Arif Mohd Khan & victims like Shahbano,Sairabano🙏🏽
— Meenakashi Lekhi (@M_Lekhi) July 30, 2019
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Certainly, it's a black day in Indian democracy. Despite Indian Muslim women's opposition to the #TripleTalaqBill, the Modi led government passed the bill in both the lower house and the upper house. We on behalf of millions of women condemn this action.
— All India Muslim Personal Law Board (@AIMPLB_Official) July 30, 2019
Mehbooba Mufti expressed her discontent with the state’s interference with religious personal laws.
Fail to understand the need to pass the triple talaq bill especially since the Supreme Court had already declared it illegal. Undue interference seemingly to punish Muslims. Given the current state of the economy, should this really have been a priority?
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) July 30, 2019
Asaduddin Owaisi voiced his opinion regarding the constitutionality of the bill
#TripleTalaqBill should be seen only as one part of many attacks on Muslim identity & citizenship since 2014. Mob violence, police atrocities & mass incarceration won't bog us down
With a firm belief in the Constitution, we've withstood oppression, injustices & denial of rights
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) July 30, 2019
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)