Hugely contentious bill


Lok Sabha had passed the hugely contentious bill that criminalises instant triple talaq and makes it punishable by up to three years imprisonment for the husband, a development hailed by the Government as "historic" but disapproved of by a section of the opposition. The Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill by voice vote after rejecting a string of amendments moved by opposition members. The Congress said it supported the bill but wanted it to be scrutinized by the Standing Committee of Parliament, a demand that was rejected by the chair. The RJD and Samajwadi Party also backed the demand of referring the bill to the Standing Committee. The bill will now be sent to the Rajya Sabha for passage before it is forwarded to the President for signing it into law. Given the Congress' stated support, the bill is likely to be passed by the Rajya Sabha, where the Government lacks majority. However, the main opposition party may again insist on referring the legislation to the Standing Committee. The Supreme Court had outlawed instant triple talaq in August and asked the Government to frame a law within six months. Ending the controversial divorce practice was also the BJP's electoral promise.
Under the proposed law, instant triple talaq in any form spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp would be illegal and void. The proposed law would be applicable to the entire country except in Jammu and Kashmir. It would make instant talaq punishable by a jail term of upto three years and a fine, and would be a cognisable, non-bailable offence. Members from RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and All India Muslim League opposed the bill, saing it is arbitrary in nature and a faulty proposal. Although Congress supported the bill, senior leader Salman Khurshid, a former Law Minister, said the proposed law is an intrusion into the personal lives of individuals, and would bring the civil issue of divorce into the realm of criminal law. The Congress did not push for a division in the Lok Sabha on amendments moved by its MPs, nor did the party support any amendment sought by other opposition lawmakers. Divorce and marriage comes under the concurrent list and both Parliament and state legislatures can enact laws on the subject.

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