Rights activists urge Rajya Sabha to withdraw and redraft triple talaq bill
Calling the Triple Talaq Bill passed by the Lok Sabha as "arbitrary, excessive, and violative of fundamental rights", rights activists and organisations on Thursday appealed to Rajya Sabha members to "withdraw the Bill and significantly redraft" it in the interest of Muslim women.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 which criminalises the practice of triple talaq among Muslims, was passed in the Lower House after rejection of all opposition amendments, and the government turning down demands for referring the bill to a joint select committee for detailed consideration.
In a statement, 40 rights activists and organisations opposed the Bill, calling it arbitrary, excessive, and violative of fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
"Overall, if this Bill is passed it would make Muslim women more vulnerable to violence, as well as harm their economic, household and social security," they said.
Arguing that there was "no rationale to criminalise the practice of talaq-e-biddat", they said that if the Bill was passed, Muslim men will be incarcerated violating their rights of conjugality and would also lead to unwanted separation of the couple, against the wishes of the wife.
"Since Muslim marriage is a civil contract between two adult persons, the procedures to be followed on its breakdown should also be of civil nature. Penal action to discourage the practice of instant triple talaq is a myopic view as it leaves many other issues of economic and social security of women unaddressed," they said.
They also called the Bill which prescribes imprisonment up to three years and makes the offence a cognizable and non-bailable one, as "draconian and disproportionate".
"Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that the practice is still "continuing unabated". He has pegged the number of divorce cases pronounced by way of triple talaq to 400 in 13 months. This data, for a country as large as India, is not enough to draw conclusions and create a criminalising bill. Moreover, the statement seems to be based on popular beliefs or perception rather than corroborated by any material evidence," claimed the activists.
"The move to imprison Muslim men will add to the prevailing insecurity and alienation of the Muslim community. Criminalisation of instant triple talaq will further stifle the voices of Muslim women instead of offering them avenues for justice," they added.