NEW DELHI: Several women activists Thursday criticised the passage of the triple talaq bill, saying it was a "political move" aimed at polarising the country before the Lok Sabha polls.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, was passed by Lok Sabha Thursday amid protests from opposition parties. Secretary, All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA), Kavita Krishnan, asked 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?" she asked.
"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.
"There is ample evidence that desertion of wife without a due process of divorce is committed by man of all faith and community. It is not unique to Muslim men," Krishnan said.
CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat said her party has opposed the triple talaq bill as it criminalises an essentially civil matter.
"For no other community law is desertion a ground for arrest. The bill is a masquerade by the Modi government to conceal the reality that it's agenda is not the protection of the rights of Muslim women but the promotion of its sectarian anti minority policies.
"I support the Supreme Court judgment for the end of arbitrary and instant triple talaq, but nowhere has the court given sanction for criminalisation," she said.
Karat said the bill has no provision for protecting of woman's rights for residence and maintenance, and instead gives the rights to a magistrate.
"This will lead to a great difficulty for the woman," she said.
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".
She pointed out that there are issues related to maintenance of women and children after the husband goes to jail which remains unexplained in the bill.
Women's rights activist, Shabnam Hashmi said by criminalising triple talaq in the bill the government intends to polarise people ahead of the elections.
"We had sought that this bill be sent to a select committee for wider consultation. This has a political agenda. The Modi government has nothing to do with the welfare of women, be it Hindu, Muslim or women of any other faith.
"(Prime Minister) Narendra Modi is trying to be a Messiah for Muslim women, which he is not. Muslim women have much more graver problems than this and those are not being addressed," Hashmi said.
President, All Indian Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), Malini Bhattacharya said in our opinion it is politically motivated.
"The progressive sections within the Islamic community will be cornered as a result of the implementation of the bill and it will fuel Islamic fundamentalism as well," she said.
The AIDWA has always opposed it as it is being criminalised when there is no need for it, Bhattacharya said.