After a day of heated debates, Lok Sabha passes triple talaq bill, and just like last year it is expected to get stuck in Rajya Sabha.
New Delhi: Even as the Lok Sabha passed the bill ensuring triple talaq is a penal offence Thursday, the futility and political posturing in the heated debate that unfolded in the Lower House was not missed by stakeholders and observers.
“What has changed in the last one year?” asked NCP leader Supriya Sule, who pointed out that the Lok Sabha had already passed another version of the same bill in December last year.
The bill, she reminded the Lower House, had been stuck in Rajya Sabha, where it faced stiff resistance from the opposition last year and is bound to meet the same fate again.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, will replace the earlier bill passed in the Lok Sabha, which is still pending in the Rajya Sabha. Facing stiff opposition in the Upper House, the government brought in an ordinance in September incorporating some amendments to the earlier bill.
An ordinance, however, has to be replaced by a bill passed by both Houses within 42 days of the ensuing Parliament session. If the bill is not passed, the government can re-promulgate the ordinance.
“There was no need to debate this Bill again in the Lok Sabha… Nothing can come out of it now,” said the founder of Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan (BMMA) Zakia Soman, who was a petitioner in the Supreme Court.
“But since the elections are nearing, everybody wants to keep the issue alive to score political points even if nothing substantive comes out of it… This is just political posturing.”
New bill, old rhetoric
Several MPs, including the likes of Ravi Shankar Prasad, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Smriti Irani, Meenakshi Lekhi, Sushmita Dev and Supriya Sule, gave emphatic speeches on the issue but there was nothing new said by either side.
While the BJP wanted to pass the bill in the Lok Sabha again, the Congress stuck to its earlier demand of sending it to a select committee for greater scrutiny.
“While reform is taking place within the Muslim community, this is just politics at play,” said Zafar Sareshwala, a former vice-chancellor of Hyderabad’s Maulana Azad National Urdu University and close friend of PM Narendra Modi.
“The BJP should also know that you can encash a cheque only once…This issue was brought up before elections in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, but you cannot keep winning elections using the same tactics,” he said.
“Like the Ram Temple, there is no political dividend left in this issue anymore.”
The Supreme Court had declared the practice unconstitutional in August last year.
“Had the SC given this judgment now, and the government brought this bill three-four months before elections, it would have helped them (BJP). But now, it is a non-issue,” Sareshwala said.
While the bill brought about by the government last year sought to make triple talaq a cognisable and non-bailable offence, it later brought about amendments according to which only a triple talaq victim or her blood relative could file a complaint. Also, the government allowed powers to the magistrate to give bail in such cases.
However, the opposition Thursday took exception to making divorce — “a civil wrong” — into a criminal offence, which it alleged, was being done with inexplicable urgency to reap political dividends by the government months before general elections.