New Delhi: Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Meenakshi Lekhi on Thursday demanded stern punishment for the clerics and religious leaders who are supporting triple talaq.
Participating in a debate after the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill - popularly known as the Triple Talaq bill, was tabled in the Lok Sabha today afternoon, Lekhi also demanded codification of Muslim Personal Law.
“Codify Muslim Law so there is no confusion on what is right or wrong,” she said adding there should be legal action against the "Mullahs and Maulavis" who are opposing the triple talaq bill, as was done when Sati was abolished.
Lekhi, national spokesperson of the BJP and a Supreme Court of India lawyer, further said that the laws of the Hindus and the Christians have been modified such that customary practices do not interfere with the rights of women.
Saying that all states were consulted on the bill, Lekhi said, "The states that have a problem with the bill should write to the Centre saying they have a problem with this law for women and that they do not accept the Supreme Court’s verdict."
"I want to tell Muslim women, when you have a brother like Narendra Modi, you don’t need to be afraid. We stand with you in this fight,” she said.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today at around 12:30 pm tabled the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill in the Lok Sabha.
The Triple Talaq bill was already listed for the ongoing Winter Session of the Parliament. Soon after this the Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) had dashed a letter to Prime Minister Modi requesting him to withdraw the controversial bill.
The bill was also opposed by women activists who were demanding a ban on instant triple talaq, following which the Supreme Court of India after a long legal battle termed the instant talaq as null, void and invalid.
The Muslim panel while demanding its withdrawal contended that due procedure was not followed while drafting the bill.
“No procedure was followed in drafting this bill, neither any stakeholder was consulted. The President of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) will convey this stand to Prime Minister Modi and request him to withhold and withdraw the bill", board's spokesperson Sajjad Nomani said while talking to media after the All India Muslim Personal Law (AIMPLB) meeting held at Nadwatul Ulema in Lucknow last Sunday.
Minster of State for Law P.P. Chaudhary had earlier admitted in the Parliament that the government had not consulted the Muslim organisations on the issue. In reply to a written question in Lok Sabha on whether the Government consulted Muslim organisatons before framing the draft law, Chaudhary replied in the negative.
In a separate written reply, Union Law Minster Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “The government is of the view that the issue arises from the humanitarian concept of gender justice, gender equality and dignity of women and not arising from faith and religion.”
He said that since the Supreme Court struck down the practice of instant triple talaq, nearly 66 cases of husbands divorcing their spouses through this method were reported.
Senior BJP leader and former Union minister Shahnawaz Hussain however claimed that the government had approached the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) for consultation on triplr talaq bill but the board didn’t respond.
"When the government approached the AIMPLB initially, they did not want to put forth any representation. Now, all of a sudden, why are they opposing it? If they wanted to be represented, they should have done so before," BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain said.
Under the draft law, triple talaq in any form -- spoken, in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS and WhatsApp -- would be bad or illegal and void.
The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or concurrent talaq and it would give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking "subsistence allowance" for herself and minor children.
The woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.
"The provision of subsistence allowance and custody has been made to ensure that in case the husband asks the wife to leave the house she should have legal protection," the functionary said.
According to the draft law, which would be applicable to the entire country except Jammu and Kashmir, giving instant talaq would attract a jail term of three years and a fine. It would be a non-bailable, cognisable offence.
Some of the other bills listed for Winter Session are Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2017, Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2016, Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017, Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes and Protection of Interest of Depositors Interest Bill 2017.
The Supreme Court of India on August 22, 2017 while terming instant or triple talaq against the principles of Quran and Shariah invalidated the evil practice and asked the government to bring a legislation on it in the parliament.
The Supreme Court referred to the fact that several Islamic countries like Pakistan do not allow triple talaq; judges questioned why it should not be abolished in India.
Differences over practice of Triple Talaq exist in the Islamic Sharia since the tenure of second Caliph Omar (RA). Muslim scholars and jurists argue that concurrent talaq or triple talaq in one go has never been approved by Prphet Mohammad (peace be upon him), during the tenure of first Caliph Abu Bakr (RA) and the first two years of Caliph Omar's caliphate.
Caliph Omar later approved it as punishment, scholars argue, but later on the practice was annulled by Muslim jurists. It is on this basis, the practice of concurrent talaq has been termed invalid in most of the Muslim countries.
Muslims in India, majority of them followers of Hanafi school of thought, are adamant on the invalid concurrent talaq and are fighting a case with women activists in the Supreme Court.
Interestingly, some renowned Hanafi scholars have also ruled against concurrent or triple talaq. According to the sources in the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), the members fear that agreeing to any change on triple talaq would open floodgate of interference in other Sharia matters.
It is also learnt that there is a strong dissent among the members of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMLB) and especially some women members are upset over board's handling of the situation.