NEW DELHI: Parliament on Monday passed the contentious triple talaq bill with 99 votes in its favour and 84 against it in the Rajya Sabha. What paved the way for its smooth passage was NDA allies and foes choosing to walk out or abstain after registering their opposition to the criminality clause in the bill.The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 that prohibits divorce by pronouncing talaq thrice in one go and makes it a criminal offence, was put to vote after a five-hour debate. The Opposition’s motions for vetted by a select committee were rejected during voting.
NDA allies JD (U) and AIADMK staged a walkout but TRS, BSP and TDP abstained from voting, thus bringing down the majority mark. The opposition failed to keep its flock together and some of its lawmakers failed to turn up for voting. Among those who abstained were five Congress MPs, including Vivek Tanka and Pratap Bajwa, NCP’s Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel and two from SP.
During the term of the last Lok Sabha, the bill had been blocked twice in the Rajya Sabha as the NDA didn’t have the numbers. Deft floor management this time helped the BJP see it through.
Lauding the passage of the bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to dustbin of history! Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!”
The discussion to pass the bill saw the Opposition and the Treasury benches attacking each other. While the Opposition accused the government of targeting the Muslim community, the government said the Opposition was pandering to vote bank politics.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said they were all for women empowerment but opposed the provision to criminalise triple talaq. “The cat has come out of the bag. There is no provision of protection of Muslim women, subsistence and provisions to take care of minors. The only idea is to put them (Muslim men) behind the bars so that the family is stuck in legal tussle,” Azad charged.
In his reply to the debate, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government tried to keep the legislation as straight as possible with provisions of getting bail. “This issue should not be seen through a political prism,” said Prasad while citing jail terms in anti-dowry law and for Hindu men marrying for the second time without divorcing the first wife to justify the jail term of three years in the case of triple talaq.