The Congress on Saturday said it will not allow the triple talaq bill to be passed in the Rajya Sabha. All India Congress Committee general secretary KC Venugopal told reporters in Kochi that the Congress would ally with parties opposed to the bill to ensure that it would not pass in its current form. “The bill will not help empower women,” Venugopal said.

On Thursday, the Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018. Several Opposition parties are against the bill’s provision that recommends a three-year imprisonment. The motion for the bill was adopted with 238 votes for and 12 against it. Both the Congress and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam walked out of the Lower House before voting began.

“The Opposition will not support the passing of triple talaq bill in Rajya Sabha,” Mathrubhumi quoted the Congress MP as saying. “All 10 opposition parties had expressed their disapproval when the bill was presented in the Lok Sabha. The government declined our demands to forward the bill to a standing committee for approval.”

The bill seeks to make the practice of triple talaq – which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by uttering the word “talaq” three times in spoken or written forms, or via electronic communication – a penal offence. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 17 to replace an ordinance issued in September. The new bill will replace an earlier draft legislation that was passed by the Lok Sabha but is pending in the Upper House, because of protests by the Opposition. The government had to make a few changes to the law, including the introduction of a provision of bail for men accused of practising triple talaq, to make it more acceptable.

Meanwhile, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked the Opposition not to politicise the matter as the bill “not against any community”, PTI reported.

Bharatiya Janata Party chief Amit Shah described the Lower House’s approval of the bill as a historic step towards ensuring the equality and dignity of Muslim women. Shah demanded an apology from the Congress for “decades of injustice”.