NEW DELHI: A month before the winter session of Parliament, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved an Ordinance to make instant triple talaq punishable, with Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad claiming the decision was taken under compelling circumstances.
“The practice of triple talaq continues unabated across the country despite the Supreme Court annulling it last year. The SC had directed the Centre to bring a legal framework to deal with it,” said Prasad, while briefing reporters.
Last month, the government had softened the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill to add safeguards, but could not clear the Opposition roadblock in the Rajya Sabha, hence the Ordinance route. The bill has already been passed in the Lok Sabha.
While Prasad cited compelling circumstances for the Ordinance, its timing could have a lot to do with the forthcoming Assembly elections in five states. The BJP can be expected to flog the triple talaq card during the polls saying it is working to ensure ‘gender justice, gender equality and gender dignity’.
Prasad urged UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and BSP chief Mayawati to help pass the legislation in the Rajya Sabha. But with the next Parliament session expected to be stormy, the fate of the bill appears uncertain.
The Ordinance drew sharp criticism from the Opposition and women activists, who asked why no similar provisions were made for Hindu men who desert their wives. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala saw it more as 'political football' than justice for the Muslim women. He claimed the government had not yet acceded to the demand to include the provision to attach properties of those who don’t pay compensation to the aggrieved women.