A fresh bill to make instant Muslim divorce or "triple talaq" illegal, which got stalled in the upper house of parliament and lapsed, is expected to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 will replace an ordinance issued in February by the previous BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government.
With the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month, the previous bill had lapsed as it was pending in the Rajya Sabha.
The bill, which provides for a three-year jail term for any Muslim man who divorces his wife instantly by uttering "Talaq" thrice - was passed by the Lok Sabha in December.
But it failed to clear the Rajya Sabha test as the opposition parties who were in majority in the upper house, wanted it to be sent to a select committee of parliament for further vetting. The government rejected the demand.
Most opposition parties, including the Congress, were opposed to stringent provisions like jail term for the husband. They contended that a penal provision cannot be introduced in a domestic issue that's essentially civil in nature and that the bill, in its current form, would end up victimising the Muslims.
The government argued that the bill would stop victimization of the women, and give them equal rights. The proposed law is based on gender equality and is part of the government's philosophy of "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas," union minister Prakash Javadekar said last week.
In absence of legislation, the government had passed an executive order to make instant Triple Talaq illegal, which was renewed twice. The new bill is a copy of the ordinance in force.
To address fears of misuse of the proposed law, the government had also introduced certain safeguards, such as adding a provision for bail for the accused during trial.
In the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha, the new government plans to convert 10 ordinances, including the one to ban triple talaq, into law.
These ordinances will have to be converted into laws within 45 days of the beginning of the session, else they will lapse.