The Trinamool Congress has moved a motion for reference of The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2018 to a Select Committee of Rajya Sabha.
The opposition is against the bill’s provision for a three-year-jail term for the husband, arguing that a criminal angle cannot be introduced in a civil matter, generally when there is no punishment for desertion in any other religion. They also say there is no clarity on who would give maintenance to the wife once the husband is in jail and argue that such hardline tactics cannot bring a family together.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 was revised after it got stalled by the Rajya Sabha, but the government has not incorporated the alteration demanded by the opposition, especially on the penal clause.
The altered bill makes “triple talaq” an offense with a jail term of up to three years and a fine for the husband, and makes the woman entitled to maintenance.
The government’s argument that the Supreme Court made Triple Talaq illegal and wanted parliament to pass a bill, has not convinced the opposition, comprising Naveen Patnaik’s BJD and the AIADMK, which have sided with the government earlier on certain matters.
The Congress has argued that the Supreme Court had not demanded to make Triple Talaq a punishable offense. When the bill came up for passing in the Lok Sabha last week, the AIADMK had walked out along with the Congress.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is piloting the bill, has said the matters involve the lives of thousands of women and should not be subject to politics. He also stressed that it was not against any particular community.
Mr. Prasad has said the bill will find help in the Rajya Sabha. Congress’s KC Venugopal said 10 opposition parties have come out against the bill, which the party maintains, targets the Muslim community.
In September, the government made instant Triple Talaq punishable through an ordinance or executive order. The proposed law is expected to replace the ordinance.
In a landmark verdict in August last year, the Supreme Court found the practice of instant Triple Talaq un-Islamic and “arbitrary”, and disagreed that it was an integral part of Islamic religious practice.