Triple Talaq bill not tabled in Rajya Sabha, deferred to next session

Triple talaq bill was to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Friday a day after Union Cabinet made amendments in it.

New Delhi: The bill making triple talaq or instant divorce a criminal offence was not taken up on the last day of the Monsoon Session of parliament due to lack of consensus. The bill will now be tabled during the Winter Session of the Parliament.

"Triple talaq bill will not be taken up today because no consensus could be built around it," Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said on Friday.

The contentious bill was supposed to be tabled in the Upper House on Friday a day after the Union Cabinet made amendments in it.

The Lok Sabha cleared the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, in December but it has been stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP-led NDA is in minority.

The bill that criminalises the Islamic practice of divorcing by uttering the word “talaq” thrice in any form – spoken, in writing, or over electronic communication.

The first amendment cleared by the Centre allows only a woman, or a close relative, to file a police case against her husband for instant triple talaq by uttering the word "talaq" (divorce) thrice.

The second amendment allows her to drop the case if the husband comes around later and they arrive at a compromise.

The government, however, has not toned down the three-year jail penalty for the husband or the provision that only empowers a magistrate, and not a local police officer, to release the accused on bail.

The third amendment mandates that the magistrate can decide on releasing the husband on bail only after hearing the wife. This was one of the demands made by the Opposition.

When Lok Sabha debated the bill last year, the two big non-NDA parties, Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the AIADMK, opposed the legislation. BJD's Bhartruhari Mahtab had called the framing of the bill "faulty" and "flawed" and insisted that it would be doing disservice to Muslim women. The AIADMK also wanted the Centre to remove the provision of three-year jail for husbands.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at a cabinet briefing on Thursday turned his attention to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and said, "I want to ask Sonia Gandhi, will you stand up for women's honour and pride? Congress should make their stand clear."

On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court struck down triple talaq, calling the Islamic practice unconstitutional. It ruled that the law violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which provides for equality before the law. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board opposed the verdict, saying it was "contrary to the protection guaranteed by the Constitution of India."

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