With the Rajya Sabha passing the Bill on Tuesday evening, Parliament has approved a law to make instant triple talaq a criminal offence. Under the proposed law, which not only the opposition but two of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s allies opposed, offenders will get a three-year jail term.
The highlight of the day, however, was the Narendra Modi government managing the numbers in support of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The government would have suffered an embarrassing defeat if all political parties who opposed the Bill had walked the talk.
The challenge before the BJP’s floor strategists was more difficult than it had faced last week when the Rajya Sabha had taken up a Bill to amend the Right to Information (RTI) law. Unlike the earlier instance, its allies the Janata Dal (United) and the AIADMK opposed the Triple Talaq Bill. Parties that had either supported the government or walked out during the debate on the RTI Bill, particularly the YSR Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti, also opposed the Bill.
On paper, as many as 136 members should have opposed the Bill in a House of 241 members. The Bill was passed with 99 to 84 votes.
With Home Minister Amit Shah present in the House, BJP’s Piyush Goyal, Bhupender Yadav, CM Ramesh and Pralhad Joshi reached out to opposition parties and MPs. Some were convinced to absent themselves, others to stage a walkout. The AIADMK and JD(U) members walked out after saying they opposed the Bill.
Modi later tweeted: “An archaic and medieval practice has finally been confined to the dustbin of history. Parliament abolishes Triple Talaq and corrects a historical wrong done to Muslim women. This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society. India rejoices today.”