Press Trust of india

Opposition demands referring triple talaq bill to joint select committee

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New Delhi, Dec 27 :  A united opposition in the Lok Sabha Thursday pitched for referring the triple talaq bill to a 'joint select committee' of Parliament, claiming its provisions were unconstitutional and that there was a need for a greater scrutiny of the draft law.

As soon as the House met at 2 pm after an adjournment to take up the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, Congress Leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, demanded it be referred to a joint select committee of both Houses for greater scrutiny.

He said several provisions of the bill were "unconstitutional".

AIADMK leader P Venugopal, TMC's Sudip Bandhopadhyay, AIMIM's Assaduddin Owaisi and Supriya Sule (NCP) also made similar demands.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said a similar bill was discussed and passed by the Lok Sabha and therefore members can flag issues during the debate.

She said all of a sudden a demand cannot be made to send it to a committee.

Speaking in the house before moving the resolution, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the triple talaq bill, which seeks imprisonment for Muslim men accused of instant divorce, is not about politics but empowerment and justice for women.

Responding to demand of opposition parties, including the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, that the bill be sent to a select committee for study, Prasad said the government has already taken note of concerns expressed by members earlier and amended the bill accordingly.

Prasad told the Lok Sabha that the bill has made the  offence compoundable, meaning that the case can be withdrawn if the man and his estranged wife reach a compromise, and that only the wife and her close relatives can file an FIR, ruling out the law's misuse.

"Don't weigh the bill on the scales of politics. This bill is not about any specific religion and community. The bill is about humanity and justice," he said, urging lawmakers of different parties to speak in one voice to support the legislation.

He said as many as 477 cases of triple talaq have been reported since January 2017 and cited a case where a professor gave talaq to his wife over Whatsapp.

Whereas another Muslim man gave talaq to his wife for attending the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally, the Union Law minister said, urging if the house unitedly can pass a bill for capital punishment for alleged rape with girls below age of 12 years, then why not this legislation.

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