New Delhi: The contentious bill to ban ‘Triple Talaq’, which failed the Rajya Sabha test last time, sailed through the opposition-dominated upper house on Tuesday aided by a series of walkouts and abstentions. The bill, which sought to end the practice of Muslim men instantly divorcing their wives by uttering “talaq” thrice, saw stiff opposition when it was presented in the Lok Sabha. But several of the parties that opposed it – including Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, AIADMK and K Chandrashekar Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi — ended up aiding the bill’s passage.
While the AIADMK and Nitish Kumar’s party walked out, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP abstained from voting, bringing down the majority mark.
A number of opposition lawmakers also gave the vote a miss. The list of absentees included Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel of the NCP, five lawmakers from the Congress, six from the Samajwadi Party, four from Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, two from Trinamool Congress, and one each from Lalu Yadav’s Rashtruya Janata Dal and MK Stalin’s DMK.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after the bill was passed in Rajya Sabha, tweeted that it was a victory of gender justice.
“An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history! Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today!” PM Modi tweeted.
The bill was passed, with 99 votes in its favour and 84 against. Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who tabled the bill, said, “Today is a historic day. Both the Houses have given justice to the Muslim women. This is the beginning of a transforming India”.
The smooth passage of a second contentious bill within a week marked a change in the government’s fortunes in the upper house, where it lacks numbers.
Last week, the controversial amendment to the landmark Right to Information Act also made it through the upper house, with the help of non-aligned parties that give issue-based support — the TRS, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and the YSR Congress of Jaganmohan Reddy.
The TRS and Biju Janata Dal, which were opposing the bill, changed their mind after calls from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.
Last evening, PM Modi had dialled Nitish Kumar to discuss the flood situation in Bihar. Despite being a BJP ally, Mr Kumar’s Janata Dal United has made no secret of its opposition to the Triple Talaq bill. During its passage in the Lok Sabha last week, the party said the proposed law will “create a lack of trust in society”.
AIADMK lawmaker Navneet Krishna told NDTV: “We walked out of Rajya Sabha because the government did not accept our demand to send the Triple Talaq Bill to a Select Committee… We believe that parliament does not have the legislative competency to make such a law. It will not withstand judicial scrutiny.”
The opposition parties had demanded that the bill be sent to a select committee for further deliberation and scrutiny. They were against the provision for a three-year jail term for erring husbands and claimed that the proposed law will be misused to victimise Muslims.
The government maintained that the Triple Talaq bill was a step towards ensuring gender equality and justice and that the opposition parties were politicising the issue.