Several civil society members and organizations condemned the passage of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, in Parliament. The Rajya Sabha on Tuesday passed the bill with 99 votes in favour and 84 against. It was passed in the Lok Sabha on July 25, and now awaits presidential assent.
The bill makes the practice of instant triple talaq – the act of Muslim man giving divorce by uttering the word “talaq” thrice, in one sitting, in spoken or written forms, or via electronic communication – a penal offence. It prescribes a penalty of imprisonment up to three years for the offence, and provides for subsistence allowance to married Muslim women and their children.
However, members of civil society claimed the bill was a “complete charade” and said they would petition President Ram Nath Kovind urging him not to sign it into law. “We the undersigned groups and individuals condemn the government’s attempt to criminalize Muslim men in the guise of protecting Muslim women,” the statement read. “We stand today in strong opposition to the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill, 2019, which has been pushed through the Rajya Sabha in great haste by this government. Why was it not sent to a select committee?”
The signatories included organizations such as Bebaak Collective and United Against Hate. Writer Farah Naqvi, historian Uma Chakravarti, and activists Harsh Mander, Arundhati Dhuru and Kalyani Menon-Sen were also among the signatories.
The statement claimed that the government was pretending to save Muslim women even as Muslims were being lynched daily. “After the Supreme Court in 2017 already made the pronouncement of talaq in a single setting void in law, it is an absurdity to make a person uttering it criminally liable, facing 3 years of imprisonment,” the statement read.