As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government prepares to introduce in parliament on Thursday a Bill that criminalises the practice of instant triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board (AIMWPLB) has backed the proposed legislation that criminalises the practice.
AIMWPLB President Shaista Amber said on Tuesday that the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which has opposed the Bill, should not try to blackmail the government by accusing it of interfering in religious matters, our New Delhi correspondent reports.
The president of the women’s board, Shaista Amber, said she would tour the country to highlight the “real face” of the AIMPLB and its “anti-women” stand.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, which criminalises the practice of saying “talaq” three times in one go and provides for a jail term of up to three years and fine on husbands who violate the law, is expected to be tabled in the Lok Sabha, the lower House of parliament, by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday as it is listed in the business of the House, as per the document of the House.
The bill, drawn up by an inter-ministerial committee, led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, came after the August 22 verdict of the Indian Supreme Court which struck down "instant" triple talaq as illegal.
Amber said in Bahraich town of Uttar Pradesh state that “clerics have misguided the community for long by their wrong interpretation of the Quran. At a time when the social media and internet have bridged the divide among the people, it has also brought to light the real meaning of the verses of the Quran which term women equal to men.”
“Triple talaq is a draconian way to destroy the lives of women and it should be banned as it is un-Islamic. We support the government for bringing the bill as it protects the right of Muslim women who are treated as slaves by men,” she said.
The proposed Bill also seeks to give a greater say to Muslim women in dissolving marriages, giving them custody of minor children and the right to seek alimony from their estranged husbands, according to the legislation approved by the Indian cabinet last week.
Amber said she had met Narendra Modi with a delegation of Muslim women to press for the bill on August 8.
“We proposed punishment and penalty for those who do not give equal right to women. I am thankful to the government for acting on the issue,” she said and alleged that the AIMPLB is “abusing the rights of women.”
Amber asked the AIMPLB why it was afraid of the bill against triple talaq.“Why don’t they consider Muslim women as equal partners? Why do they want to create a feeling of divide among the Muslims when the society is going for reforms? Why are they saying the bill would promote interference in religious matters? Why do they want to protect such men who use women and abandon them at their will?” she said.
She said Muslim women and educated men were supporting the bill and those misusing triple talaq should not go unpunished.
The bill could witness a showdown between ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Left which are likely to oppose the penal provision in it.
The AIMPLB had on Sunday unanimously rejected the proposed bill and said it will write to the PM to review it in consultation with the board and senior clerics.
While Trinamool Congress has opposed the ban on instant talaq and the provision in the Bill to make it a cognizable offence, parties like Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and the Left have welcomed the apex court ruling but opposed the penal provisions of the proposed law.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi had alleged the government was using the SC judgment as an excuse to criminalise something that was till recently permissible under customary law.
CPI(M) lawmaker Mohammed Salim said criminal procedures were a concern and the bill should be referred to an all-party parliamentary committee where it can be debated further.
Salim said when the SC has already banned instant talaq, there is no need for such a bill. Biju Janata Dal and NCP, too, have said they will oppose the penal provisions of the legislation.
Modi has more than once favoured abolition of instant triple talaq as he has termed it a crime against women. He had made it an issue during the elections to the Uttar Pradesh state legislative assembly early this year when BJP swept to power with a landslide mandate.