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Activists divided over Talaq Bill in Lok Sabha

Activists divided over Talaq Bill in Lok Sabha

But the Bill needs to be watertight when it comes to the financial security of women. Introducing the Bill, he told those opposing it that "yeh kanoon na kisi puja ka hai, na prarthana ka hai, na ibadat ka hai, na majhab ka hai, yeh kanoon naari nyay, naari garima aur naari samman ka hai" (this is not a law for any prayer or religion but it is for justice to women, their dignity and respect).

The proposed law, which makes talaq-e-biddat a "cognizable and non-bailable offence", has provisions of "imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and fine" for any Muslim man who divorces his wife by uttering talaq three times in quick succession. The Bill also seeks to entitle a woman to get the custody of her minor children as well as subsistance allowance from her husband in case he pronounced the Triple Talaq on her.

"This Bill, once turned into a law, would act as a deterrent (against practice of triple talaq)" Prasad said, dismissing the allegation by some opposition MPs that the government was pushing through the Bill to reap political dividends out of it. She said laws were passed to ban "Sati" and the same should be done on instant talaq.

The bill is aimed at bringing reform in the medical education sector which has been under scrutiny for corruption and unethical practices, government sources have said.

Members said the government needed to dispel the perception of harbouring "ulterior motives" in pushing through the Bill.

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However, commenting on the provision of allowance, Mr. Atul said that there is no contradiction in the bill. But the Opposition parties did not rally together at the time the Bill was taken up for voting at the end of the discussion. The Bill effectively criminalises talaq-e-biddat, or instant triple talaq from a Muslim husband to his wife, whether granted orally, or via a written text on WhatsApp, SMS or email, among other forms.

Opposition parties demanded changes in the Bill and more consultations on it. Parties including the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) demanded that the Bill be sent to a standing committee for further discussions.

BJD's Tathagata Satpathy said, "We support the Bill but not the way it is meant to be applied on the ground". The government, however, pushed the Bill through, as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepted the Law Minister's request to allow it to be considered and passed on Thursday itself. "Women of other communities have enjoyed legal protection but Muslim women have suffered; in this regard, we welcome the bill". "There is talk of criminality which can cause problems", she said.

Senior advocate Indira Jaising, who was a counsel for Bebaak Collective on the issue of triple talaq in Supreme Court, however, expressed shock.

It may be mentioned that in July, Supreme Court issued guidelines to police and magistrates to check the misuse of anti-dowry law.


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