New Delhi: The first session of the 17th Lok Sabha has commenced during which the passage of the Union Budget and key legislation such as triple talaq will be on top of the agenda for the government.
The Modi government had promulgated 10 ordinances in its first term after the opposition used its majority in the Rajya Sabha to block the bills in the previous session.
It had promulgated some ordinances again, including the triple talaq bill — aka the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 — amendment bills on Jammu and Kashmir reservation, Aadhaar laws, companies act and the Indian Medical Council Act.
Among the bills that will be introduced in this session, the one on triple talaq can be contentious for the government and the opposition.
Introduced in Parliament and passed on 28 December 2017 by the Lok Sabha, the triple talaq bill makes instant triple talaq (in Islamic law, referred to as talaq-e-biddah) in any form — spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp — illegal and void.
The bill, after failing to get the support of the Rajya Sabha, was passed as an ordinance. The law prescribed up to three years in jail for the erring husband.
MPs of the RJD, AIMIM, BJD, AIADMK and IUML opposed the bill. They branded it as “arbitrary” in nature. They said the proposal was “faulty”. Congress supported the Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha by then law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The bill faced stiff resistance in the Rajya Sabha. Several Opposition lawmakers demanded that the draft legislation be sent to a select committee for close scrutiny.
The bill was finally passed by Lok Sabha on 27 December 2018 with strong support.
Several psephologists observed after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election that the BJP, not known generally as a party liked by Muslims, got the overwhelming support of Muslim women. BSP chief Mayawati was surprised to note that even Muslim-dominated seats were won by the BJP.
There are some contentious issues in the Sharia law of Islam that the fundamentalist section of the community is not ready to accept as social evils that need resolution. One such issue is triple talaq where a husband can divorce the wife in a fit of rage or for any other consideration by pronouncing “talaq” thrice. The odd Islamic law is practised even using mobile phones and applications.
While some scholars of Islam say that there should be a gap between consecutive pronouncements of talaq, not all Muslims observe the rule.
The other odd practice in Islam is halala, which is a related issue. Once a man and a woman are divorced and they wish to marry again, considering the decision of talaq a mistake, they can’t until the woman is married and divorced by another man. This strange rule has rendered many a woman a destitute as the first husband is often not willing to accept the woman back in his life after she has led a conjugal life with another man.
In contrast to the Congress’s Rajiv Gandhi government that tried to appease the extremist section of Muslims by overturning the Shah Bano case verdict, the Modi government is trying to cater to the underprivileged section of the community with his thrust on resolving the triple talaq issue.