NEW DELHI: The triple talaq bill which was passed in Lok Sabha on Thursday, will be tabled in Rajya Sabha next week. The government is likely to face a tough task in the upper house as opposition parties will be seeking amendments to the bill. Being in minority in the Rajya Sabha, the opposition's requests for changes are likely to get a nod.
Despite an overwhelming demand from the Opposition to refer the legislation to a Parliamentary standing committee for detailed consideration, the government could pass the bill in Lok Sabha where it holds a majority.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was passed by a voice vote after rejecting a resolution moved by Revolutionary Socialist Party member N.K. Premachandran that the legislation be circulated for public opinion.
Various amendments moved by opposition members, including Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) and Premachandran, were negatived in divisions. The BJD and AIMIM later staged a walkout.
The government's determination to get the Bill passed could be gauged from the fact that it was introduced in the morning and taken up for consideration in the afternoon by suspending relevant rules, and then passed in the evening by sitting late beyond the scheduled close of the House.
Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the bill and later piloted it in the Lok Sabha, said history was being created.
He said the issue was not of religion or faith but of "gender justice and gender equality" and appealed to all the parties to rise above political considerations and politics of votebank. "Women are seeing that justice will be done to them. Let us speak in one voice that we are for gender justice and gender equity and pass the Bill unanimously," Prasad said, winding up the discussion.
Opposition parties accused the government of bringing the bill with "ulterior political motives".
The bill seeks to declare pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat (three pronouncements of talaq at one go) by Muslim husbands void and illegal in view of the Supreme Court verdict.
Prasad said while Justice Rohington Nariman and U.U. Lalit held in their judgment in August that instant divorce was unconstitutional and the government should look at bringing a law, Justice Kurian Joseph had observed that what is a sin in Islamic laws cannot be legal.
Intervening in the debate, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said time was now ripe for the passage of the legislation in the interest of Muslim women. He recalled an instance of a British journalist interviewing the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru after the passage of the Hindu Code Bill when she asked when would the government introduce reforms in Muslim laws.
Though Opposition members, including from the Congress, supported the legislation, they wanted it to be referred to a parliamentary committee so that several lacunae can be removed and the provisions strengthened in favour of Muslim women.
Owaisi took several digs at the Modi government and also said those who "marry and abandon" their wives should be punished and the government should bring a law to this effect. He termed the bill as "bad law".
Prasad, who responded to the concern of opposition members about making triple talaq punishable, said such concerns were not raised when punishment was provided under Dowry Prohibition Act. He said the amount of subsistence will be decided by courts.
(With agency inputs)