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New Bill to ban Instant Triple Talaq tabled in Lok Sabha; Opposition raise objections

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New Delhi, June 21: A fresh bill to ban the practice of instant triple talaq, the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, was tabled in the Lok Sabha by Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday.

Notably, the previous bill lapsed with the dissolution of 16th Lok Sabha last month. Bills passed by the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha lapse with the dissolution of the lower house.

New Bill to ban Instant Triple Talaq tabled in Lok Sabha; Congress raises objections

Amid protest by the Congress and AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi, Prasad said, "This is not a matter of religion, caste or community. It is a matter of a woman's dignity and integrity. The rights of Muslim women will be protected (through this law)." Quoting Article 15 of the Constitution, he said the law is to give justice to women who were victims of instant talaq.

Shashi Tharoor of the Congress said he was opposed to triple talaq (instant divorce) but was against this bill as it conflates civil and criminal laws. He claimed it was a textbook example of class legislation as it was pointed at one community -- Muslims-- even though abandoning wives is not unique to it.

Tharoor said there should be a law universally applicable to all in case of abandoning wives.

Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM took a dig at the BJP, saying it has so much affection for Muslim women but is opposed to rights of Hindu women to enter Sabrimala Temple in Kerala.

The triple talaq bill violates constitutional rights as it stipulates three-year jail term for guilty Muslim men while non-Muslim men get only one year of jail term for a similar offence, he said.

N K Premchandran of the RSP also opposed the bill.

The bill seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) a penal offence, had faced objections from the opposition parties which claimed that jail term for a man for divorcing his wife was legally untenable.

The government had promulgated the ordinance on triple talaq twice - in September 2018 and in February 2019 - as the contentious bill remained pending in the Rajya Sabha, though it was passed by the Lok Sabha.

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Under the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019, divorcing through instant triple talaq is illegal, void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.

Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law could be misused, the government has included certain safeguards in it such as adding a provision for bail for the accused during trial. These amendments were cleared by the Cabinet on August 29, 2018.

While the ordinance makes it a "non-bailable" offence, an accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail.

In a non-bailable offence, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself. A provision was added to allow the magistrate to grant bail "after hearing the wife", the government had said.

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