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Above: Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad

With the ruling NDA dispensation’s position in the Rajya Sabha not in the majority, the government’s much-touted triple talaq (instant) bill – a practice struck down by the Supreme Court in August last year as unconstitutional – has not been able to make it through the Upper House after sailing through the Lok Sabha.

And as the Monsoon Session approaches – July 18 to August 10 – Union Minister for Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad has appealed all the opposition parties to lend support to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

The bill – Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill – passed by the Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017, makes instant triple talaq punishable with up to three years in jail for the husband.

Reports say that Prasad, while talking to a news channel said that the issue of triple talaq was neither of politics or of religion, but a “matter of women’s pride and justice”. Using this plank, the minister appealed to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati, National President of the Bahujan Samaj Party, to help pass the bill. He said that he was willing to to discuss the bill with the three politicians if they so desired.

The bill gives power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking subsistence allowance for herself and minor children. The bill had also mandated that the victim can also seek custody of her minor children.

The law also renders instant triple talaq illegal in any form — in writing, verbally or by electronic means such as WhatsApp, email and SMS etc.

While striking down the practice last year, a Supreme Court constitution bench of five judges had observed “there is no constitutional protection for triple talaq as it is arbitrary and ‘whimsical’ as it leaves no scope for conciliation and violates Muslim women’s rights.

“In view of the different opinions recorded, by a majority of 3:2 the practice of talaq-e-biddat — triple talaq is set aside,” the five-judge bench had said in the order.

—India Legal Bureau  

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