NEW DELHI: Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday moved the triple talaq Bill for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha and said about 100 triple talaq cases had taken place since the Supreme Court struck it down in August this year.
The discussion on the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was taken up hours after it was introduced in the pre-lunch session.
Prasad said the Bill was historic, and the issue was not of religion or faith but of "gender justice and gender equality".
He said the government had hoped the situation will improve after the Supreme Court verdict. The Minister said the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which has opposed the Bill, had given an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying it would issue an advisory through its website, publications and social media platforms to tell bridegrooms at the time of 'Nikahnama' that they would not resort to talaq-e-biddat.
"We had hope. The judgment came on August 22. There were 300 triple talaq cases in 2017 of which 100 had taken place after the Supreme Court verdict. This raises a big question," Prasad said.
He also referred to media reports on Thursday about an incident at Rampur in Uttar Pradesh in which a woman had been given talaq-e-biddat for waking up late.
"We do not want to interfere in any sharia. It is only about talaq-e-biddat which has been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It has been regulated in Islamic countries. India is a secular country. Should we tolerate injustice to women," he said.
Prasad urged members not to see the Bill from the political prism. "It should not be constrained by the walls of politics, should not be weighed in terms of religion and not be seen in terms of vote bank," Prasad said.
Referring to the 3:2 judgment of the Supreme Court which set aside talaq-e-biddat as a manifestly arbitrary practice, Prasad said two judges had termed it unconstitutional, one as illegal and two others had ordered an injunction on triple talaq at least for six months -- by when the government should consider steps to initiate legislation on the issue.
The Bill proposes to declare pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat (three pronouncements of talaq at one go) by Muslim husbands as void.
It says the illegal act of pronouncing talaq-e-biddat shall be a punishable offence. There is provision for subsistence allowance from the husband for the livelihood and daily supporting needs of the wife as also of the dependent children. The wife would also be entitled to the custody of minor children.
Prasad said that talaq-e-biddat has been regulated in many Muslim-majority countries such as Bangladesh, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and even Pakistan, "which is a terror state".