NDA, opposition spar in Rajya Sabha over triple talaq bill

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Jaitley too lambasted the Congress for not allowing the House to discuss the Bill.

Though the opposition rejoiced at their "victory" in the Upper House today, but its leaders were also apprehensive about what they called possible moves by the ruling party to break their unity over the issue.

A meeting chaired by Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu in this regards saw number of Opposition parties advocating for a Select Committee review of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill. We have to consider the plea of several Muslim.

The bill, which seeks to make instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband, was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 28.

This bill gives power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking "subsistence allowance" for herself and minor children in the case of instant triple talaq or talaq-e- biddat. Not going far into the details of the bill, it aims at abolishing a form of unilateral oral divorce to Muslim women by their husbands by uttering the word "talaq" thrice, a practice which is not prevalent in Islamic nations.

Citing Rule 70 (sub-rule 2a), Congress MP Anand Sharma tried to justify the Opposition's demand to refer the bill to the select committee.

Congress wants to lower the three-year imprisonment term to two years.

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Many parties have argued that once a man is jailed it ends all possibilities of reconciliation. "And how will a man provide for his family if he is behind bars?", wrote the Muslim art curator and former journalist Irene Akbar in an opinion piece for online news site The Citizen. Sections 3 and 4 of the Bill are the most important ones. "And the police can arrest him without a warrant". He said the Centre had brought the Bill as per an order of the Supreme Court. Even a cursory examination of the present provision would reveal that it would instead have been advisable for heavily penalising the husband for his wrong doing.

"It is not going to give justice and equality to Muslim women. But since it is a personal law, it should be part of civil law, not criminal law", said Noorjehan Safia Niaz, co-founder of the BMMA. Also, added that we are not opposing the Bill and said the law has to go through scrutiny.

During the day, he and Congress' Ghulam Nabi Azad got in touch with BJP allies like Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), People's Democratic Party (PDP) and some smaller parties, sources said.

One of the rationales behind the Supreme Court judgment of banning instant triple talaq was that it doesn't leave any scope for reconciliation. The BJP is indulging in politics over the bill. If the member in charge moves the bill, it will be taken into consideration.

Ganesh Singh (BJP) said the government has proved that it was for empowering the OBCs and the Bill underscored this commitment. "The government is misleading Muslim women and the nation through a massive false propaganda", he alleged. He also suggested names of members for the Standing Committee.

Should the triple talaq bill be sent to a Select Committee or not?

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