Bill on criminalization of instant triple talaq clears Rajya Sabha

The controversial Triple Talaq Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, with 99 MPs voting in support and 84 voting against the Bill.

The BJP government, riding piggyback on the Muslim women’s movement for the abolition of triple talaq, has managed to pass the law which allows the criminalization of instant triple talaq. According to its provisions, a man found guilty of the same be sent to jail for a three year non-bailable term.

The bill has raise furor amongst women’s groups with the All India Democratic Women’s Association and Bebak Collective issuing strong statements against the composition of the Bill, fearing that this will prove counterproductive for the very women it claims to protect.

The women’s movement had been asking for a codification and a law that strengthened Muslim Women’s rights, not a law that criminalises a social practice in a manner where it seems to be actually encouraging a confrontation between the Muslim man and the woman. There are sufficient laws under the Criminal Code where a man, Muslim or any other religion, can be booked for cruelty. This proviso is thus fraught with serious consequences that contradict the concept of empowerment. And make the Muslim man unnecessarily vulnerable to a charge he might not even be guilty of. By the time his innocence is proven, the jail term as we have seen in the case of the hundreds of alleged terror accused, might stretch into decades with a lifetime lost.

According to Seema Mustafa, the Bill is violative of the very nature of the movement that rested on women’s rights without compromising the men, or turning them as now proposed, into criminals. It is also against the tone and tenor of the Supreme Court judgement on the issue. It is full of legal loopholes, ill thought out, and needs proper scrutiny before being finalised into a document that responds to the real issues, and does not create fresh controversies.

The opposition parties had demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee for further deliberation and scrutiny. They were against the provision for a three-year jail term for erring husbands and claimed that the proposed law will be misused to victimise Muslims.

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