NEW DELHI The Union cabinet has cleared an ordinance to make the practice of instant triple talaq a penal offence, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Wednesday, citing compelling necessity for the move as the practice annulled by the Supreme Court continues unabated.
Addressing a press conference, he accused the Congress party of not cooperating in the passage of the 'Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, pending in the Rajya Sabha, because of vote bank politics.
Citing details of the ordinance, he said a woman or her blood relative will have to file a case before a police station to make the offence cognizable.
The offence is compoundable. A compromise can also be reached before a magistrate after the affected woman consents to it, he said.
"It is my serious charge that despite having a woman leading the Congress, the did not lend support to the bill," he told reporters.
Describing the practice as "barbaric and inhuman", he said nearly 22 countries have regulated triple talaq. However, gender justice was given a complete go-by in a secular country like India because of blatant vote bank politics.
"I will again appeal to Sonia ji that this ordinance has been brought in the interest of the country to bring gender justice. I appeal to you to rise above vote bank politics and help pass it in the interest of justice for women," he told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
The Union minister also appealed to Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee to help in the passage of the bill pending in Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks numbers. The Lok Sabha has already passed the bill.
The Supreme Court last year banned the practice. But since the practice was still prevalent, a bill was brought to make it a penal offence.
Cong Slams BJP: 'Its Also Fooling People On Article 370, AFSPA'
The Congress on Wednesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP of using the issue of instant triple talaq as a political football for vote garnering rather than ensuring the welfare of Muslim women, and said they have become "habitual offenders".
Reacting to a Cabinet decision approving an ordinance that makes triple talaq a penal offence, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the Modi Government is indulging in "fake credit seeking" and "subterfuge, suppression and diversion of truth" have become its and BJP's DNA.
He claimed that concerns like subsistence allowance for women were deliberately not being addressed by the BJP so that instant triple talaq remains a polarising vote garnering issue.
He alleged Modi and the BJP had similarly attempted to "fool" the people on a number of issues like Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Uniform Civil Code and Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).
"An unnerved BJP finding itself cornered on the issue of repeated and gruesome rape incidents, as also issues of women security, is seeking to divert and reset the political agenda by hurriedly bringing an ordinance on Instant Triple Talaq'," Surjewala told reporters.
The Modi Government and the Law Minister have indulged in mere vilification and blame game without releasing the proposed ordinance or listing out the solutions or concerns raised by Muslim women on subsistence for themselves as also the children born out of the marriage, the Congress leader said.
"Instead of false credit seeking, bravado and chest thumping, let PM Modi and Law Minister answer the question as to why did they not bring a legislation or ordinance to ban Instant Triple Talaq' between May 26th, 2014 until the judgement of Supreme Court in Shayra Bano Versus Union of India' case, declaring the instant triple talaq as illegal and unconstitutional.
It is only after the Supreme Court Judgement in Shayra Bano Case that PM Modi and BJP tried to make political capital by proposing a legislation that was heavily loaded against the welfare of Muslim women", he said.
Targeting Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Surjewala alleged that he is "perpetually misleading" and has now become the "master of deception and abuse", when it comes to hurling lies and allegations against the Congress party on every issue.
As raised by the Congress party as also various groups, he said, why should the woman and children not have a right to proceed against the estate - movable and immovable property- of the husband.
"Modi Government has deliberately not made any such provision.
"Once again, Modi Government stands exposed for its lies, trickery and intrigue vis-a-viz ensuring the welfare of Muslim women and children in India," he alleged.
He said the Congress has always believed that the issue of Instant Triple Talaq' ie Talaq-e-biddat is about gender justice' and gender equity'.
"Congress has always maintained that anything prejudicial to Muslim Women like instant triple talaq is inherently unsustainable.
"We were the first political party to state that in the modern day changing times, Instant Triple Talaq' is an unsustainable practice.
We not only welcomed the Supreme Court judgement quashing Instant Triple Talaq' as a victory for the rights of Muslim women but Congress leaders also represented the women petitioners before the Supreme Court," he said.
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