After almost a day-long discussion amid walkouts from the Opposition, the Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Triple Talaq Bill, which criminalises instant triple talaq or divorce by Muslim men, with up to three years in jail for the husband.
The Bill on Muslim Women (Protection on Rights of Marriage) was passed by 303 ayes and 82 noes.
JD(U), Trinamool Congress and Congress MPs staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha in protest against the Triple Talaq Bill during the voting session.
During the debate, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice as despite an August 2017 Supreme Court verdict striking down the practice of instant triple talaq, women are being divorced by 'talaq-e-biddat'.
He said, since January 2017, as many as 574 triple talaq cases and since the Supreme Court order, more than 300 such cases were reported by the media.
"Under these circumstances, what should we do? Should we allow Muslim women to be continued to be exploited," he said.
The law minister said 20 Muslim countries in the world, including Pakistan and Malaysia, have banned the triple talaq. "Why can't a secular India do it?" he asked.
Several opposition parties have bitterly opposed the legislation like the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the DMK.
NDA ally JD(U) said it will create a lack of trust in the society and walked out of the House on Thursday.
Stating his party does not support the Bill, Rajiv Ranjan Singh was of the view that the government should do all that is necessary to create "awareness among the people of this community (minority)."
Union Ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh, who is also deputy leader of the House, were present during the consideration and passing of the Bill.
The bill now faces the Rajya Sabha test.
Triple Talaq Bill sees heated debate
The Law Minister justified the government's decision to issue ordinances as the earlier moves by the government in 2017 and 2018 could not get the parliamentary nod.
Much to the chagrin of Congress members, he said - "If the then government had acted in 1986, then we would have been spared from the task of bringing this law today".
Opposing the Bill strongly, Congress member Mohammad Jawed said, ''The bill only seeks to put Muslim man behind bars.''
Prasad, however, said to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial.
While the bill makes triple talaq a "non-bailable" offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail.
Referring to Prasad's contention that the bill is being brought on the basis of Supreme Court judgement, Jawed said nowhere the apex court has said that talaq words should be made a criminal offence.
Opposing the Bill, RSP member N K Premachandran said the government has brought in as many as three Ordinances on the issue.
He alleged that apparently the government had "ulterior political motives" in bringing it. He also questioned that how a personal law can be made a criminal law.
BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi said laws will have to precede the changes and somebody has to show the political courage, adding that it was the duty of the state to make the law to bring about a change.
In this context, she referred to country's first Prime Minister and said Pt Jawaharlal Nehru had himself said "creating a secular state in a religious country" was biggest challenge for him.
"Kya yeh dikkatey aaj Pradhan Mantri Modi ki nahi hae (Perhaps incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi also faces similar challenge)," the New Delhi MP said.
P K Kunhalikutty of Indian Union of Muslim League (IUML) also said the government only had political intent in piloting the draft law.
He demanded that the Bill should be withdrawn.
Vocal AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi said contrary to government's claim that the Bill is aimed at helping the cause of Muslim women, the draft law in public space for more than two years, is in effect anti-Muslim women.
Participating in the debate, several opposition members said if this law was being brought at the directives of Supreme Court and said in such a case, the ruling dispensation should have brought laws with regard to mob lynching and Sabarimala.
Third LS nod in less than 3 years
The Lok Sabha gave its nod for the third time in less than three years time to the much talked about draft law.
The Lok Sabha had passed it first on December 27, 2017 and also in December last year after the Congress and AIADMK members walked out.
Last year, 245 members of the Lok Sabha voted in favour of the Bill, while 11 voted against it.
Passed by Lok Sabha twice, the Bill lapsed as the 16th Lok Sabha was dissolved before the Rajya Sabha could give its nod to the much controversial draft law - which has been opposed by several opposition parties including the Congress, the Left parties including RSP and the Trinamool Congress.
Bills that are introduced in the Upper House and are pending do not lapse with the dissolution of Lok Sabha, but the draft laws passed by the Lower House and pending in the Rajya Sabha, however, lapse.
Compelled to bring the Bill into the Lok Sabha for the third time in less than three years as the draft law got stalled in the Rajya Sabha twice, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the lawmakers in the House of People - "Is mamley ko siyashi chasmey sey na dekhe (Please do not see this issue of rights of Muslim women with political prism)".
Azam remark leads to ruckus in LS
There was a ruckus in the LS after SP’s Azam Khan made a controversial comment on BJP MP Rama Devi who was in the Chair. Speaker Om Birla rebuked Khan. Defending him, Akhilesh Yadav said the BJP uses the most “indecent” language and has no right to call out others.
Joshi stirs a row on session extension
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi created a row when he said in the RS that the Oppo-sition’s demand for a short duration discussion can be taken up next week. TMC’s SS Roy said the session is till July 25 and any announcement on exten-sion has to be from Chair.
Clash over Bill on water disputes
Lawmakers from opposition and BJP clashed on the merits of The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019 when it was introduced in LS. The Bill was opposed by Congress, DMK and BJD leaders who said water being a state subject, the state should be consulted.
(With ENS, PTI and IANS inputs)