The Centre is likely to table the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, NDTV reported. Opposition parties are against the bill, also known as the triple talaq bill, in its current form.

The bill seeks to make the practice of instant triple talaq – which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by uttering the word “talaq” thrice in spoken or written forms, or via electronic communication – a penal offence. It prescribes a penalty of imprisonment up to three years for the offence, and provides for subsistence allowance to married Muslim women and their children.

The government had introduced the bill in the Lower House on June 21, but it failed to pass amid protests by Opposition parties. Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor had said “the bill does nothing to improve the status of Muslim women”.

While the bill is likely to be passed in the Lok Sabha given the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s overwhelming majority, it may face hurdles in the Rajya Sabha. Apart from Opposition parties, the Janata Dal (United), which is the BJP’s alliance partner in Bihar,
will oppose the bill. Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal and Andhra Pradesh’s ruling YSR Congress Party are also likely to oppose the proposed legislation, NDTV reported.

Opponents of the bill contend that a penal provision cannot be introduced in a domestic matter that is civil in nature. The parties claim that the bill in its current form will victimise Muslims, and want it to be examined by a parliamentary panel. According to the government, the bill is necessary for promoting gender equality.

On Wednesday, several Opposition parties, at a meeting headed by United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, decided to boycott Parliament over the government’s alleged refusal to send bills to parliamentary panels.

The Centre had first promulgated the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance in September. A bill to replace it was passed in the Lok Sabha in December, but remained pending in the Upper House. 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 lapsed on June 3.