NEW DELHI, July 31 (PTI): Three senior ministers of the Modi government on Friday launched a scathing attack on the Congress at an event marking the first anniversary of the law against triple talaq, saying the legislation could have been enacted in the 1980s, but for the alleged vote bank politics of the grand old party.
Addressing Muslim women from across the country via a video link during the event, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said triple talaq or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ was “neither Islamic, nor legal”, but despite that, the social evil was given “political patronage” by “merchants of vote bank”.
The law against triple talaq could have been passed in the 1980s when the Supreme Court had given a historic judgment in the Shah Bano case, he said.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Act, 2019, makes ‘talaq-e-biddat’ or any other similar form of talaq having the effect of instantaneous and irrevocable divorce pronounced by a Muslim husband void and illegal. It makes it illegal to pronounce talaq three times in spoken, written or through SMS or WhatsApp or any other electronic chat in one sitting.
“The Congress had an absolute majority in Parliament with more than 400 out of 545 Lok Sabha members and more than 159 out of 245 members in the Rajya Sabha. But the Rajiv Gandhi government used its strength in Parliament to make the Supreme Court judgment ineffective and deprive Muslim women of their constitutional and fundamental rights,” Naqvi said.
Speaking on the occasion, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani echoed Naqvi’s views, saying the Congress had the numbers in Parliament in the 1980s using which they could have done justice in favour of Muslim women, but for them “vote bank was more important”.
“For them, their political life was more important and they never aimed to improve the lives of Muslim women,” she said.
Irani said the real battle was fought by those Muslim women who went to court over the triple talaq issue so that not just them, but other women from the community also get justice.
She also said that a day will come when Muslim women will also march ahead in digital literacy.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also addressed the Muslim women and asked why did it take India 70 years to bring a law against triple talaq. “Why were there differences on the triple talaq law?” he asked.
“On one hand there is the politics of Narendra Modi and on the other, is the politics which is stagnant from Shah Bano to Shayara Bano,” he said, in an apparent jibe at the Congress.
Prasad also slammed the Muslim personal law board for not acting on the issue of triple talaq and opposing the bill when the Modi government brought the legislation.
He asserted that the law against triple talaq was a “law for women’s rights and self-respect”.
Prasad said that he will work towards suggestions to make Muslim women digitally literate and run a campaign for it.
Naqvi, in his remarks, also said August 1 should be recorded as “Muslim Women’s Rights Day” in the country as the day marked the anniversary of the law making triple talaq a criminal offence.
The Modi government made the law against triple talaq to make the Supreme Court’s judgment effective, he said.
Naqvi said the law making the social evil of triple talaq a criminal offence has strengthened “self-reliance, self-respect and self-confidence” of Muslim women
The government has ensured gender equality and strengthened the constitutional, fundamental and democratic rights of Muslim women by bringing law against triple talaq.
Several Muslim-majority nations of the world had declared triple talaq as illegal and un-Islamic much earlier, Naqvi said.
But, Muslim women in India struggled for decades to get freedom from this social evil, he added.
“One year has passed since the law against triple talaq was passed and there is a decline of about 82 per cent in triple talaq cases thereafter. If any such case was reported, the law has taken action,” Naqvi said. The Modi government is committed to political empowerment and not “political exploitation”, he said.