The Narendra Modi government is keen to get parliamentary approval for the triple talaq bill but there is no certainty that it will clear the Rajya Sabha hurdle in the remaining two days of the budget session and the measure may again be implemented through an ordinance.
Opposition parties and several leaders from the Muslim community are sticking to their stand against the bill, contending there is no need for it as the instant triple talaq has been banned by the Supreme Court.
Most leaders IANS spoke to also opposed the criminalisation of triple talaq and the provision of three-year jail to the husband.
The triple talaq ordinance was re-promulgated in January this year as the revised triple talaq bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in the last session but could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha where the government lacks majority.
Communist Paty of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat said the government should not bring a matter from civil to criminal law for a particular community.
“We are in support of the striking down of triple talaq, which is instant and arbitrary, and which was duly struck down by the Supreme Court. Now the government wants to criminalise a practice that doesn’t exist in law. If a man does leave the wife, it is desertion and abandonment, which falls in the purview of civil law. It is not a criminal offence.
“Now the question rises: if the government want to bring a matter from civil law to the criminal law, why do it selectively for a certain community,” Karat told IANS.
“There are some very prominent public figures in the country who have deserted their wives. If there’s to be a law it’s these persons who should be first arrested and put in jail,” she remarked.
Kamal Farooqui, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, termed the bill “a political gimmick” that was not needed when the practice of triple talaq itself has been struck down by the Supreme Court.
“It is illogical. And it hurts the women as well as the unity of a family. How the two of them can reconcile when the husband is in the prison. May be (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi is trying to tell his followers see ‘I can create problems for Muslims in this fashion’,” he said.
Congress MP Sushmita Dev has said the Congress would scrap the triple talaq bill if it comes to power and instead go for an alternative that emerges out of discussions within the Muslim community.
“Our stand inside and outside Parliament is same. We are opposing criminalisation of triple talaq and will continue to do it. There are solid legal reasons behind it. The common man understands it,” she had earlier told IANS.
The Supreme Court had declared the triple talaq practice “unconstitutional” in August 2017.
According to social activists, Muslim marriage is a civil contract between two adults and the procedures to be followed on its breakdown should also be of civil nature. Penal action to discourage the practice of instant triple talaq does not take into account issues of economic security of women, they add.
The government should strengthen the negotiating capacities of women by providing them support and criminalising instant triple talaq was not the answer.
It has also been suggested that the government should provide economic support to the affected women, children and other dependents if the husband is put behind bars.
The bill allows the aggrieved woman as well as those related to her by blood to be the complainant.