The government has listed the controversial Triple Talaq Bill for consideration and passage in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. The ruling BJP has issued a whip to its MPs, asking them to ensure their presence in the House. The bill, which criminalises instant divorce by Muslim men and seeks jail term for the guilty, was the first draft legislation tabled by the Narendra Modi government in this first session after it took oath of office for a second term in May.
Several opposition parties have bitterly opposed it but the government has asserted that the bill is a step towards gender equality and justice. Parties like the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the DMK have demanded that it be sent to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny.
The BJP-led NDA enjoys strong majority in the lower house, making the passage of the bill a foregone conclusion. However, the government is set to face an uphill task in Rajya Sabha where opposition parties have numerical advantage over the treasury benches.
Some of the BJP's allies, including the JD(U), have also expressed their reservation about the bill.
The government introduced the bill in the lower house last month amid vehement protests by opposition members who claimed that it was violative of the Constitution.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019 became the first legislation to be tabled in Parliament by the Narendra Modi dispensation in its second term, with Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asserting the legislation was a must for gender equality and justice.
The bill was introduced following a division of votes, with 186 members supporting and 74 opposing it.
"This is not a question of religion but about justice to women," Prasad said.
Shashi Tharoor of the Congress said he was opposed to triple talaq (instant divorce) but was against this bill as it conflates civil and criminal laws.
He claimed it was a textbook example of class legislation as it was pointed at one community -- Muslims-- even though abandoning wives is not unique to it.
Tharoor said there should be a law universally applicable to all in case of abandoning wives.
Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM took a dig at the BJP, saying it has so much affection for Muslim women but is opposed to rights of Hindu women to enter Sabrimala Temple in Kerala.
The triple talaq bill violates constitutional rights as it stipulates three-year jail term for guilty Muslim men while non-Muslim men get only one year of jail term for a similar offence, he said.