While the BMMA welcomed the passage of the bill and expressed concern only about the ‘cognisable offence’ provision, Bebaak Collective called it a ‘black day’.
New Delhi: As the Centre’s ambitious bill that proposes to criminalise instant triple talaq was passed in the Lok Sabha Thursday, victory was declared on behalf of Indian Muslim women. But Muslim women’s groups are a divided lot.
While Zakia Soman of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Aandolan (BMMA) welcomed the developments in Parliament and called it a “historic day”, she added that the BMMA is not entirely comfortable with the offence being non-cognisable in nature.
“Only the wife should have the right to accuse her husband of triple talaq,” she said. “This is not a money bill. The Rajya Sabha window is still open, we hope that the matter is sent to a select committee in the Rajya Sabha.”
However, the BMMA has struggled for a law for Muslim women for a decade, and the non-cognisable provision, even though problematic, is not an absolute prerequisite, Soman said.
Making triple talaq a cognisable offence means the police would be liable to arrest a Muslim man accused by anyone (and not just the affected party, i.e. the wife) of the crime.
Bebaak Collective – another Muslim women’s group which had intervened in the apex court case in support of the plea to outlaw instant triple talaq – on the other hand, called it a “black day” for Muslim women and Indian democracy.
“We sincerely hope that the damage is undone in the Rajya Sabha,” Hasina Khan, the collective’s founder, said.
Neither of the two groups, which have been at the forefront of the struggle to invalidate the practice, had been consulted by the government before drafting the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights in Marriage) Bill, 2017.
“It’s shocking that the bill has been passed by the force of a brute majority without any consultation with women’s groups,” senior advocate Indira Jaising said. “It is not our idea of justice to throw Muslim men in prisons,” she said, adding that she hoped that the bill was not passed in the Upper House.
A source in the Congress told ThePrint that the party will try to refer the matter to a select committee for legislative scrutiny when the bill is introduced in the Rajya Sabha next week. Most opposition parties continue to think that the criminalisation provision needs a rethink, the source added.
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