Bill on triple talaq unwarranted, politically motivated: CPI-M

CPI-M Lok Sabha MP Mohammed Salim (IANS)

New Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS) The Narendra Modi government’s move to bring a bill criminalising triple talaq (instant divorce in a single sitting) is unwarranted and politically motivated, the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPI-M) said on Tuesday.

The Modi government is likely to introduce the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017, which makes instant divorce a criminal offence that would attract a jail term of up to three years, this week in Parliament.

“When the Supreme Court has already banned the triple talaq, there is no need to bring such a law. If divorce has not happened in the first place, where does the need to criminalise the act arise?” CPI-M Lok Sabha MP Mohammed Salim told IANS.

“As far as demanding a ban on the practice of triple talaq is concerned, we have been raising this issue when politicians like Narendra Modi had not even heard of the term triple talaq. But we recognise that divorce is a civil matter and there is no need to criminalise it,” he added.

He said that the present bill is “arbitrary” and “politically motivated” as no stakeholders such as the Muslim community, women rights groups, civil society and Muslim scholars, had been consulted on the need and shape of such a legislation.

“The government has said that the practice of triple talaq is rampant even after the Supreme Court banning it. Does the government have any empirical evidence to back this claim? Where is the data and who conducted the survey?” he said.

Salim said there is no need to make a national law on something that is not practiced widely.

He said that triple talaq cases are few and far apart and that too among uneducated people in remote areas.

“There are other issues with this too. For example, if a man is jailed for uttering ‘talaq, talaq talaq’, who will take care of his dependents, including the wife and children? How will this man be able to pay the lawyers to defend himself in the court?” the CPI-M leader said.

He said that a more practical approach would be to strengthen Section 498 and triple talaq can be brought under the ambit of domestic violence.

He said that there are many other issues of national concern such as farmers’ plight and agrarian crisis, but the Modi government “is not concerned” about them.

“As for women rights, what is this government doing to stop women trafficking?” the MP demanded to know.

He said that if the government is adamant on introducing the bill in Parliament, his party would demand that it should be referred to the Standing Committee for consideration and have a “more holistic view on the legislation”.