Muslim women's groups divided on triple talaq bill passed by Lok Sabha

PM Narendra Modi is new Santa for new India Union Minister Ananth Kumar

A bill to replace the apex medical education regulator - Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new body, to ensure transparency, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi, who alleged "vested interests" behind the legislation, said it was an attempt to demonise Muslim men.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, while speaking about "Muslim women's pain" in Parliament, omitted the crucial aspect that most victims of instant triple talaq don't want their husbands to be jailed or penalised. However, the Government rejected these amendments moved by the Opposition parties saying there was no need for wide consultation on such a limited issue.

Congress leader Salman Khurshid has underlined that the bill doesn't benefit Muslim women and instead sends them into further financial and social insecurity by jailing their errant husbands.

Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, which was one of the petitioners in the Supreme Court on the issue of talaq-e- biddat, said that Lok Sabha proceedings indicate that Muslim women's voices have been heard across the political spectrum.

The bill was passed with most of the leading parties in the Opposition, including the Congress party, voting in favour of the bill, but with caveats.

Sushmita Dev of the Congress questioned if a man was put behind the bars after practicing Triple Talaq, which had already been declared illegal by the Supreme Court, on his wife, how he would give her the subsistence allowance the proposed legislation provided for. With "triple talaq" under its belt, party can be expected to expand its focus to polygamy and the controversial practice of halala, which forbids a divorced couple from uniting unless the woman had married someone and secured a divorce from her second husband. All kinds of instant triple talaq - spoken, in writing or by electronic means, such email, text message or WhatsApp - would be illegal and void.

The National Medical Commission Bill 2017, to be introduced in the Lok Sabha, will replace the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, in what is seen as a big leap forward towards reforming the regulation of medical education. But Muslim women's groups are a divided lot.

"The Muslim Women (Protection of rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 does not give equal position to men and women", said the letter addressed to PM Modi.

He said that Muslim women were victimised by instant triple talaq. "We are all for this bill but there are certain flaws and difficulties in this", he said. The government, however, pushed the Bill through, as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepted the Law Minister's request to allow it to be considered and passed on Thursday itself. Recalling an anecdote of the Nehruivan era, Akbar said the country's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had during a conversation revealed that he could not reform the Muslim Personal Law because the time was not appropriate.

NCP MP Supriya Sule, while supporting the Bill, sought similar measures against marital rape. He said that practice of Triple Talaq continued although the All India Muslim Personal Law Board had committed to the Supreme Court that it would issue an advisory against it.



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