NEW DELHI: Amid Opposition protests in the Lok Sabha, the government on Friday introduced the contentious triple talaq bill, which proposes to criminalise the practice of instant divorce among Muslims.
The Opposition contested its introduction, suggesting it be first referred to a committee for wider consultations.
With the Opposition refusing to yield, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla put the question of introduction to vote. After 186 ayes and 74 nays decided the matter, Birla allowed Union Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad to present the legislation.
Speaking in its favour, Prasad said the bill aims to ensure justice to women belonging to the Muslim community. However, Congress member Shashi Tharoor claimed it was a textbook case of class discrimination against Muslims, adding he was opposed to making triple talaq a crime.
Abandoning the spouse is not restricted to the Muslim community alone, he reasoned. “So, why shouldn’t it be universal law, which could provide total protection to women belonging to all communities,” Tharoor reasoned.
AIMIM MP from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi said the bill violates Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. If a Muslim man is arrested for allegedly practising triple talaq, how would he be able to provide allowance to his wife, which is mandated by the bill, he asked.
Owaisi also sought a level playing field, saying the bill prescribes jailing erring Muslim men for up to three years, though non-Muslim men committing a similar offence would get only one year in jail.
During Narendra Modi’s first tenure as prime minister, the government steamrolled the talaq bill in the Lok Sabha but failed to introduce it in the Rajya Sabha despite softening its initial version.
A 32-year-old man from Bhiwandi in Thane district was booked on Friday for giving triple talaq. The police also filed FIRs against his family members for allegedly harassing his wife for dowry.