The BJP today hailed the bill passed by the Lok Sabha that makes instant triple talaq a punishable offence while the Congress sought strengthening of the law to safeguard rights of divorced Muslim women and provide them with adequate allowance. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill gives power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking “subsistence allowance” for herself and minor children. MPs from the RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and All India Muslim League opposed the bill, calling it arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal. Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier called for consensus in passing the bill. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi said the bill is to demonise the Muslims and has sent a wrong message to the Muslims of the country. He also said a message has gone down as to who was playing “vote bank politics”.
Those Muslim women, who are celebrating its passage, are “not aware” of its provisions, he said, adding they will realise its negative impact in the future. He also said the Congress also stands exposed by not opposing the bill. CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat criticised the government for attempting to push the bill through Parliament without holding any discussions or consultations with Muslim women and women’s organisations. While the BJP termed the legislation as “historic”, the Congress said it needs to be strengthened to safeguard the rights of divorced Muslim women so they live a life of dignity with adequate subsistence allowance. “This bill is a historic step towards ensuring dignity for Muslim women. I thank all fellow Parliamentarians who have supported this bill, which will bring a new era of hope and respect in the lives of Muslim women,” BJP chief Amit Shah tweeted.
Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the bill is not about any religion but about the issue of women justice and dignity. Union minister and BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi termed the passage of the bill as “historic and landmark step towards women empowerment” and congratulated Prime Minister Modi and Law Minister Prasad for it. His colleague Mahesh Sharma said it is a bill that respects humanity and helps provide dignity to our mothers and sisters. Supporting the bill, the Congress said Parliament must ensure the protection of rights of Muslim women and children under all circumstances.
Congress’s communications department in-charge Randeep Surjewala said it was the first political party to welcome the Supreme Court verdict banning triple talaq, and had hailed it as a decisive step towards women empowerment and victory for the rights of Muslim women. “The Congress has always believed that the issue of instant triple talaq ‘Talaq-e-biddat’ is about gender justice and gender equity. The Congress will support any and every law abolishing instant triple talaq. “The present bill needs to be strengthened to safeguard the rights of women to a life of dignity with adequate subsistence allowance. Parliament must ensure protection of rights of Muslim women and children under all circumstances,” he said.
However, senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, a former union law minister, struck a discordant note, insisting the proposed law will be an “intrusion” into the personal lives of individuals and bring divorce, a civil issue, into the realm of criminal law. He, however, said, “It is an intrusion into the personal lives of individuals. Taking criminal law into the family, you have to be careful. To make divorce in any form a criminal matter is unacceptable anywhere in the world.” “Criminal law is kept out of family as far as possible, which is a general policy everywhere. Why are we bringing criminal law into something which is a non-existing factor? Triple talaq is no institution or institutional fact of life, the Supreme Court has made it very clear,” Khurshid said.
CPI(M) leader Karat said the bill “itself is very objectionable, and equally objectionable are the efforts of BJP to push it through Parliament without any consultation or discussion with those in whose names the bill is been passed”. The bill will now be sent to the Rajya Sabha for passage before it is forwarded to the president for signing it into law. BJP Spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao tweeted, “To Appeasers’ Alliance comprising Owaisi, RahulG, Mamata; Mulayam, Lalu: Stop communal politics! Jail provision of up to 3 years for Instant Triple Talaq is reasonable. Hindu Marriage Act has stronger provisions: for 2nd marriage jail term is up to 7 years under IPC Section 494.” BJP’s youth wing president and party MP Poonam Mahajan said, “For so many years, politics took precedence over women’s rights. A historical step is taken today in Parliament for empowerment of women with the passing of the Triple Talaq Bill. I thank Narendra Modi and Ravi Shankar Prasad for this significant decision.”
Surjewala said Section 5 of the bill merely states that Muslim women are entitled to subsistence allowance without defining subsistence allowance and explaining the method of calculating it. He said the bill should ensure payment of maintenance and/or subsistence allowance to women and children if the husband is in jail for 3 years, as envisaged under the law. Terming the bill as “very important” and “significant”, Mahila Congress chief and party spokesperson Sushmita Dev said her party will work with the government to bolster the rights of Muslim women.