Triple talaq bill was passed with 245 votes after the opposition parties, led by Congress, staged a walkout when their demand to refer the legislation to a joint select committee was rejected by the government. Shortly after the lower house passed the The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2018, BJP chief Amit Shah took to Twitter to congratulate the Modi government for successfully passing the bill and said it is “a historic step to ensure equality, dignity of Muslim women”.
He further said Congress and other parties must apologise for decades of injustice towards Muslim women.
Congratulations to PM Modi ji and the entire govt for successfully passing the Triple Talaq Bill in Lok Sabha.
This is a historic step ensuring equality and dignity for the Muslim women. Congress and other parties must apologise for decades of injustice towards Muslim women.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) December 27, 2018
Meanwhile, several women activists criticised the passage of the bill, asking how the law can be different for different communities.
“Why such an offence (abandoning wives) when committed by a non-Muslim man is considered to be a civil offence and the same is being criminalised when committed by a Muslim man,” asked secretary of All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) Kavita Krishnan.
“I think the fundamental objection that my organisation, AIPWA, and other women groups had on this bill stands. We had objected to the offence of instant triple talaq being criminalised. Our position is that there is no basis to make this a criminal offence,” Krishnan said.
She said a wrongful attempt to divorce or deserting a wife must be a civil offence and not a criminal one.
Annie Raja, general secretary, National Federation of Indian Women, termed the bill a “fraud” and said the “government has taken this step for political gains in view of the upcoming elections to polarise the country”.
However, National Commission for Women welcomed the development with panel chief Rekha Sharma saying that she has seen Muslim women suffer due to the absence of this legislation.
In a signature campaign launched by the women’s commission, Sharma said around 10,000 Muslim women came forward for the legislation and wanted it passed as soon as possible.
‘Bill against the Constitution’
Meanwhile, the Congress too accused the NDA government of getting the triple talaq bill passed in haste keeping in mind the 2019 general elections and said its provisions were against the Constitution as well as fundamental rights.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said stringent provisions like criminalisation of a civil offence were not there in any other law applicable to other religions as were there in the triple talaq bill.
“The triple talaq bill is against the Constitution. It is also against fundamental rights. They got the bill passed in haste in Lok Sabha as general elections are approaching,” he told.
Union minister Rajyavardhan Rathore criticized the Congress’s move to stage a walkout ahead of voting on the bill, saying their vote bank politics stands exposed yet again.
“The way Congress walked out today, it exposes their vote bank politics again. It’s their diplomatic nature. Now they’ll try to stop it in Rajya Sabha. But our philosophy is to strengthen everyone and work together,” Rathore was quoted.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh expressed hope that the bill will clear the Rajya Sabha test.
“This (the bill) was essential and it has been passed. Congress had supported it last time, I can’t understand why they walked out this time. I am sure this bill will be passed in the Rajya Sabha as well,” Singh said.
Meanwhile, the bill drew mixed reactions from the Muslim bodies, with some terming it “very dangerous” and others welcoming it.
S Q R Ilayas, member of working committee of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), said there was no need for this bill and it has been brought keeping in mind the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“It is a very dangerous bill that will make a civil issue a criminal offence. Who will take care of the wives and children once the husband goes to jail?” he said.
Zakia Soman, member of the Bhartiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, welcomed the bill and further demanded the Muslim Marriage Act on lines of the Hindu Marriage Act that would deal with other issues like polygamy and child guardianship.