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25 Jul, 2019 17:17

Opposition walks out as Muslim ‘instant divorce’ bill passes India’s lower house of parliament

Opposition walks out as Muslim ‘instant divorce’ bill passes India’s lower house of parliament

A controversial bill banning the practice of ‘triple Talaq’ divorce among muslims has passed India’s lower house of parliament by a resounding margin, amidst a walk-out by members of the opposition.

The so-called Triple Talaq bill was passed on Thursday, with 302 votes in favor and 82 against. It seeks to make the practice of instant divorce, achieved simply by saying ‘Talaq’ three times, a criminal offence, punishable by three years in prison. The bill must now pass the upper house, where opposition parties are in the majority, before it becomes law.

India’s Supreme Court banned instant divorce for men in Islam in 2017, ruling that the practice was “un-Islamic”. However, in seeking to pass the legislation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government argues that the practice has continued unabated.

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“There have been 345 cases of triple talaq after the judgment till July 24. Should we leave these women on roads?” the minister for legal affairs Ravi Shankar Prasad said in parliament, arguing that the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice.

“If 20 Islamic countries can ban Triple Talaq, why can’t India? Even Mohammad the Prophet said that triple talaq is a sin,” he added.

The main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, demanded that the bill be sent for review saying it targets Muslims, and staged a walk-out after their request was rejected.

Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of the All India Majlis Ittehad ul Muslimeen (AIMIM) party, blasted the bill as “discriminatory.”

“How will a husband pay maintenance from jail? Why should a woman stay in such a marriage for three years while the husband is in jail?” he asked during the debate. 

The bill was previously passed in the lower house last December but it lapsed in the upper house after the dissolution of the lower house for national elections.

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