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On Triple Talaq Bill, Government, Opposition Clash Again: 10 Points

A fresh bill to make instant Muslim divorce or "triple talaq" illegal, which got stalled in the upper house of parliament and lapsed, was introduced in the Lok Sabha today. The government countered the opposition's claim that it was a "discriminatory" bill by pointing out that the Supreme Court's order banning the controversial Islamic practice needs to be followed up with a strong law. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 will replace an ordinance issued in February by the previous BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government. The bill had failed to clear the Rajya Sabha test earlier.
  1. Here's your 10-point cheat sheet to this big story:

  • As discussion on the bill opened, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the government should bring a uniform law and not one that only targets Muslim men. "Men from other religions also desert their wives," Mr Tharoor said. "There is no procedural safeguards in the bill, refer it to a standing committee... it is a discriminatory bill," he said.
  • With the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month, the previous "triple talaq" bill had lapsed as it was pending in the Rajya Sabha. The bill, which provides for a three-year jail term for any Muslim man who divorces his wife instantly by uttering "talaq" thrice - was passed by the Lok Sabha in December last year.
  • But it failed to clear the Rajya Sabha test as the opposition parties who were in majority in the upper house, wanted it to be sent to a select committee of parliament for further vetting. The government rejected the demand.
  • Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal United, an ally of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has said the party will not back the "triple talaq" bill. Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party and Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal are also not keen on supporting the bill.
  • "Hope the Triple Talaq Bill gets passed in the Parliament today. Hope that our Parliament soon bans Nikah Halala as well! It's inhuman and barbaric," Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women Swati Maliwal tweeted this morning. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi today in a courtesy call, sources said.
  • Most opposition parties, including the Congress, were opposed to stringent provisions like jail term for the husband. They contended that a penal provision cannot be introduced in a domestic issue that's essentially civil in nature and that the bill, in its current form, would end up victimising the Muslims.
  • The government argued that the bill would stop victimisation of the women, and give them equal rights. The proposed law is based on gender equality and is part of the government's philosophy of "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas," Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said last week.
  • In absence of legislation, the government had passed an executive order to make instant "triple talaq" illegal, which was renewed twice. The new bill is a copy of the ordinance in force.
  • To address fears of misuse of the proposed law, the government had also introduced certain safeguards, such as adding a provision for bail for the accused during trial.
  • In the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, the new government plans to convert 10 ordinances, including the one to ban "triple talaq", into law. These ordinances will have to be converted into laws within 45 days of the beginning of the session, else they will lapse.