The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 seeking to criminalise instant divorce, triple talaq, is likely to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The Bill, last week, was passed in the Lok Sabha with most of the leading parties in the Opposition, including the Congress, voting in favour, but with caveats. It was passed after the House rejected a string of amendments moved by various Opposition members. The Centre termed the voting as “historic” and expressed confidence that it would be passed in Rajya Sabha as well.
The contentious bill had gathered mixed response from all parties when it was introduced in the the lower house. While Congress extended its support, it also suggested that there were certain lacunae in the Bill that needed to be rectified before being brought into force. All the amendments moved by Owaisi, Biju Janata Dal’s (BJD) Bhartruhari Mahtab, the Congress’ Sushmita Dev and the Communist Party of India’s (Marxist) A. Sampath were negated in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
If the Bill gets a green signal in the upper house as well, it will be forwarded to the President for signing it into a law. In light of the ruling alliance lacking a majority in the Rajya Sabha, there are possibilities of the Bill getting stalled, as Congress, the leading opposition party has objected to the imprisonment and maintenance clauses of the Bill, and has pressed for the Bill to be sent to the standing committee or a select committee to remove objectionable clauses.
“On one hand, you are sending the man to jail, but on the other hand there is no clarification about who will provide maintenance for the woman and her child, so there are many loopholes,” Congress Lok Sabha member Ranjeet Ranjan told ANI.
However the leading dispensation is hopeful that the opposition would not stall the passage of the Bill in the Upper House. “The government’s decision on triple talaq has been welcomed by everyone in the nation and amidst it, we do not believe the opposition would oppose the bill,” Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir said.
The Bill, if enacted, will make triple talaq a criminal offense. It proposes a three-year jail term for a Muslim man who divorces his wife in any form of spoken, written or by electronic means such as email, SMS, and WhatsApp.