KOLKATA: On a day the Union Cabinet cleared a bill seeking to criminalise instant triple talaq among Muslims and providing for a three-year jail term, spiritual leader and Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Friday backed the central government stand. saying honouring gender equality was a must for the country to be at par with the world.
Replying to questions on the proposed legislation, Ravi Shankar said he has always stood for gender parity.
"We must have gender equality. I am for it. We are in the 21st century, and we must honour gender equality, which is there everywhere in the world. We need to be at part with the world" said the spiritual guru at an interaction titled "We Never Lose, Either We Win Or We Learn" organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 got the cabinet nod during the day at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had spoken about the issue even during the campaign of the just-ended Gujarat Assembly elections.
According to the draft Bill sent out to states earlier this month, it was proposed that triple talaq be made a cognisable and non-bailable offence that would attract a jail term of three years. The draft law was prepared in the backdrop of the August 22 verdict of the Supreme Court striking down the practice of "instant" triple talaq as illegal.
However, it is understood that the Bill provides for a three-year imprisonment and fine to a Muslim man if he resorts to the practice of instant divorce, which a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had held as "unconstitutional and arbitrary". The court had also held that triple talaq was not integral to Islam.
The Bill, while making instant divorce a cognisable and non-bailable offence, also seeks to give the affected women right to seek maintenance. It is expected to be introduced during the Winter Session of Parliament that commenced on Friday.