With the bill against instant triple talaq getting stalled in the Winter Session of Parliament, minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi speaks with Yojna Gusai about how the Narendra Modi government will make all efforts to get the legislation passed in the Budget Session and assured the Muslim women that ‘der hai par andher nahin (there could be a delay but no injustice)’.
The bill against triple talaq got stalled in Parliament. Your comments.
It is very unfortunate that the Congress-led Opposition was more interested in sending this bill to the select committee than getting this reformative bill to pass. We used to think that the Congress would want to rectify the historic blunder it made in the Shah Bano case, the sin it committed then. But the Congress repeated its mistake. This bill (against instant triple talaq) has nothing to do with religion or prestige. This bill is to provide justice and equality to women, which is provided by the Indian Constitution. But they (the Opposition) took a position against the rights of Muslim women, against what the Constitution of the country has provided them (Muslim women). The Congress will bear repercussions for playing vote-bank politics with this reformative issue.
But what about the changes which the Congress and other Opposition parties want in the bill? The government blamed the Congress’ “double standards” for the bill getting stalled.
We have been saying that the government is ready for discussion, deliberation and welcomes suggestions, and discuss any amendment on the bill. But what were the amendments they (Opposition) want? They want the penal clause in the bill to be removed and there contention is that if a husband goes to jail then who will pay for the maintenance of the woman. But let me ask them, why in the first place a husband do something which is illegal and unconstitutional and he has to go to jail? Then the Opposition said why is there a need for the law when it is illegal? Is murder not illegal and unconstitutional, is robbery not illegal and unconstitutional, is Naxalism not illegal and unconstitutional? Are there no laws against them? Their (Opposition) logic is contradictory. The Congress had no problem when the bill was taken up in the Lok Sabha, but vehemently demanded that it should be sent to a select committee when it came up in the Rajya Sabha. This is called a double standard. The Congress’ different stands in the two Houses show that supporting the bill in the Lok Sabha was their majboori (helplessness).
Why do you think the Congress felt helpless?
Because it was under pressure from few fanatic forces who bring religion in every issue. Religion and faith was brought in when Sati practice was being abolished, even then some people wrote to the British Parliament against banning the practice citing religion and faith. The same excuse was used when child marriages were banned. Religion and faith has been brought in again when the Modi government wants Muslim women to enjoy the rights provided by the Constitution. The Congress again played vote-bank politics but ended up hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community.
It is only some Muslim fanatics; the Congress and few other parties who are opposing it fearing that the government or the BJP will score points if this bill is passed. But this is not a political issue. If you remember, there were massive protests and agitations by some Muslim organisations during the Shah Bano case, forcing the then Congress government to bring a legislation reversing the Supreme Court verdict on the maintenance issue which was in the favour of divorced Muslim women. It was done by the then government for sheer vote-bank politics. But did we see those kinds of protests now (against the instant triple talaq bill)? No. Only few Muslim fanatics tried to link the issue with religion and faith to prove that they have power and authority over issues related to the community. By and large, the Muslim community is in favour of this bill, they support it. The mindset of the community has changed in these years and they have realised that some political parties will only play politics, while they suffer.
So you are saying that the Muslim community is in favour of this bill?
If there is a referendum on this bill, Muslims will definitely find the Congress’ stand wrong. So many Islamic countries have banned the practice of instant triple talaq. In Islam, there is a provision that if any husband commits this, he should be whiplashed, which is the highest form of punishment and they (Opposition) wants that there should be no punishment for the husband who commits this illegal practice. India runs as per the Constitution not any religious law. Our Constitution is our holy book and our holy book has provided equal rights for men and women.
But Opposition parties claimed that the bill was drafted without consulting or taking views of the community members?
This issue was in the court for many years where different stakeholders placed their views. Even Kapil Sibal (senior Congress leader and a prominent lawyer) placed his views in the case. The government has been saying that it is ready to discuss and debate everything. The Congress and Opposition parties had an opportunity to place their views and also of those who were claiming that they were not consulted. But the Congress was more interested in sending the bill to the select committee and discuss it behind close doors than to place their views and suggestions at a platform (Parliament) where others could also see.
Do you think the government will be able to get it pass in the next session?
The Indian Constitution has provided equal rights to every citizen of the country. The Modi government is committed that this bill gets passed and our Muslim sisters are saved from this illegal practice. The Congress might have managed to stall the bill this time but we are sure that it will be passed in the next session. But the Congress should know that its stand has angered Muslim women as it (Congress) tried to play politics over a social issue.