Triple Talaq: Govt wins first round, tight fight up next

New Delhi: Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi speaks as he participates in the Triple Talaq debate, in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi, Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018. (LSTV grab via PTI) (PTI12_27_2018_000107B)

Countering the Opposition, the government said the bill was to empower women, and was not against any faith.

Introducing the triple talaq Bill in Lok Sabha on Thursday, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Opposition should not “weigh the Bill on scales of politics” and rejected the charge that it is directed at a particular community.

The Bill, he said, is aimed at “naari nyaay, naari garima, aur naari sammaan (justice for women, dignity of women, and respect for women)”.

On objections raised by the Opposition, Prasad mentioned other laws passed by Parliament — death penalty for those who rape minors, criminal penalties for dowry, among others — and asked, “yeh apatti sirf triple talaq par hi kyun (why this objection only for triple talaq)?”

He maintained that the Bill is not meant to target any community, neither is it “for vote banks”. Pointing out that more than 20 Islamic countries have banned instant triple talaq, he said it still remains in secular India.

Taking a jibe at Opposition members, Prasad said he was listening to them intently for a concrete suggestion, but none came. He said the government had already made amendments to the Bill brought in 2017 after the Opposition had raised certain concerns, and the offence has been made compoundable, meaning that the case can be withdrawn if the victim and her husband find a compromise. This Bill states that only the wife and her close relatives can file an FIR, ruling out the law’s misuse, he said.

BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi, who spoke the longest in defence of the Bill, read from the Quran other texts on Islamic law and several poems. Starting with a list of schemes introduced for women, Lekhi said, “This government is talking not about women’s empowerment but about women-led empowerment…. Whenever we are discussing subjects relating to gender justice, this is not ‘he versus she’. These are issues of human rights violation and these belong to the entire social set-up, and the entire political set-up.”

She questioned the practice of triple talaq, asking how the “supreme right” to divorce has been given “only to the man”. Lekhi said the intention of this Bill is not only “punitive” but also “restorative and reformative”.

She also said some Opposition members do not believe that for people, “it should first be the Constitution, then any religion”.

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the practice of triple talaq is not based on Islamic law but is a “ku-neeti” (social ill). On the Opposition’s argument that a jailed man cannot pay for maintenance, he asked, “Why commit a crime at all.”

Mentioning 477 instances of triple talaq reported since January 2017, Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said not even one such case should occur. She said, “This particular talaq-e-bidat has been found bad in theology and has been found bad in the eyes of Supreme Court. I beseech this House to find it bad in legislation also.”

Source: The Indian Express

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