By Abdul Hafiz Lakhani
Calicut (Kerala): Close on the heels of emotional appeal from President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week for the early passage of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, also known as the Triple Talaq Bill, during the Budget session of Parliament, Adv. P.K. Noorbeena Rasheed, General Secretary of Indian Union Women’s League, wrote a letter to every Rajya Sabha member asking them to reject this controversial bill.
While Mr. Modi made his remarks before the start of the session, Mr. Kovind made it a part of his address to both Houses. The Bill had been cleared by the Lok Sabha in December last year, but is hanging fire in the Rajya Sabha where a larger Opposition group wants to send it to a Select Committee for further scrutiny, while the government wants early passage of the Bill.
Mrs. Noorbeena writes that Supreme Court had passed a judgement in Shayara Bano Case on 22nd August 2017, to declare the practice of Triple Talaq (Talaq-e-biddat) as unconstitutional and null and void. This form of Talaq was made void for the next 6 months, and directed the Legislature to make an enactment to this effect. While passing the judgement, Supreme Court neither observed to criminalize the Talaq-e-biddat nor to make it Cognizable and Non-Bailable offence.
“The present form of Muslim Women (Protection of rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, as such does not serve any purpose or protect the Muslim Women. The sections in the bill as such are self-contradictory,” she said.
“As per Section 3 the talaq-e-biddat is void and illegal, which automatically resumes the legal status of the marriage, making the parties legally wedded husband and wife. As per Section 4, this legally wedded husband is imprisoned for 3 years without an undefined amount of fine. This can cause further discordance in the marital life, and their families. As per Section 5, the imprisoned husband is directed to pay undefined substance allowance. How can a husband imprisoned in jail make payment for subsistence allowance,” Mrs. Noorbeena Rasheed, a senior lawyer herself, asked while elaborating some legal points.
“In 1984, an act to provide for establishment of family courts came into being to deal with the disputes relating to marriage and family affairs. But, with the new proposed bill, the affected Muslim Family is dragged into the Criminal Court. This is a clear discrimination on the basis of religious view. All offences related to marriage, the law requires a complaint from the affected party to initiate the proceedings, while proposed bill does not mention the requirement of a complaint by an affected party. Since this offence is made cognizable and non-bailable, without a complainant, there is a serious opportunity to be misused by anybody against Muslim men, in order to seek vengeance. The present form of Muslim Women (Protection of rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, no way gives any relief to the Muslim women, instead it demoralizes and destroys the family bond,” she concluded.
Mrs. Noorbeena Rasheed has appealed to every Rajya Sabha MP to protest strongly against the bill when it is presented in the future and defeat the bill so as to protect the fundamental rights guaranteed under our Indian Constitution.
[Abdul Hafiz Lakhani is a senior Journalist based at Ahmedabad, Gujarat. He is Editor of Gujarat Siyasat, and regularly contributes to India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper “IndianMuslimObserver.com”. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on his cell +91-9228746770]