Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Wednesday said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre’s Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance, 2019, will be used as a “weapon against minorities”, PTI reported. His statement follows the Union Cabinet’s decision to re-issue the draft law known as the triple talaq bill on Tuesday.

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.

Yadav said the BJP government is using the guise of women’s empowerment to implement its flawed plan. “Social change cannot be achieved through force and arbitrary criminalisation,” Yadav said. “A narrative of women’s empowerment is being used to cover up an ordinance which will be used as a weapon against minorities. We will support an act that implements the Justice Sachar report.”

The Sachar panel’s recommendations included the setting up of an equal opportunities commission to look into the grievances of minority communities, and the linking of madrassas with higher education boards.

The government failed to pass the bill, known as the triple talaq bill, in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session of Parliament.

The Centre had first promulgated the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance in September 2018. A bill to replace it was passed in the Lok Sabha in December 2018, but remained pending in the Rajya Sabha. The government promulgated the ordinance again after the Winter Session of Parliament, but could not pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session. The ordinance is set to lapse on June 3, when the current government’s term ends and before the next session of Parliament.