New Delhi: A day after Union cabinet signed off on the changes in the triple talaq bill adding a bail provision, the draft bill will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Friday making instant triple talaq, or instant divorce a criminal offence.
The Lok Sabha cleared the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, in December but it has been stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the BJP-led NDA is in minority.
The Centre is expected to bring an ordinance, or emergency executive order to enact the law if the Opposition does not play along, NDTV reported quoting government sources.
The government is looking to introduce the contentious bill after making three amendments to it. If the bill is cleared by the upper house, it will be sent back to Lok Sabha for approval of the amendments.
The bill criminalises the Islamic practice of divorcing by uttering the word “talaq” thrice in any form – spoken, in writing, or over electronic communication.
The first amendment cleared by the Centre, allows only a woman, or a close relative, to file a police case against her husband for instant triple talaq by uttering the word "talaq" (divorce) thrice.
The second amendment allows her to drop the case if the husband comes around later and they arrive at a compromise.
The government, however, has not toned down the three-year jail penalty for the husband or the provision that only empowers a magistrate, and not a local police officer, to release the accused on bail.
The third amendment mandates that the magistrate can decide on releasing the husband on bail only after hearing the wife. This was one of the demands made by the Opposition.
With the amendments made by the cabinet the government now hopes support from some non-NDA parties, which raised concerns over the misuse of the law.
The ruling BJP has already ordered all its lawmakers to be present in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, which is also the last day of the Monsoon Session.
All eyes will be on the two big non-NDA parties, Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the AIADMK, who have 22 lawmakers in the House.
When Lok Sabha debated the bill last year, both BJD and AIADMK opposed the legislation. The BJD's Bhartruhari Mahtab had called the framing of the bill "faulty" and "flawed" and insisted that it would be doing disservice to Muslim women. The AIADMK also wanted the Centre to remove the provision of three-year jail for husbands.
Both the parties abstained from voting.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad at a cabinet briefing on Thursday turned his attention to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and said, "I want to ask Sonia Gandhi, will you stand up for women's honour and pride? Congress should make their stand clear."
On August 22, 2017, the Supreme Court struck down triple talaq, calling the Islamic practice unconstitutional. It ruled that the law violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which provides for equality before the law. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board opposed the verdict, saying it was "contrary to the protection guaranteed by the Constitution of India."
(With inputs from agencies)...