Government urges Sonia, Mamata and Mayawati to ‘keep an open mind’ aiming for their support on Triple Talaq issue

Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad has urged former Congress President Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati to cooperate with the government for acceptance of the Triple Talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha.

Talking about women empowerment and gender equality, Ravi Shankar wondered, why, even though being women themselves, Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati, and Mamata Banerjee was silent on the issue of Triple Talaq. The minister said “that the bill has a clear linkage to gender justice, gender dignity, and gender equality. 22 Islamic countries have banned it. India is a secular country. Why are important leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee backtracking on it when the issue is purely justice and empowerment of women?”

While desiring to know as to why the opposition has issues with the non-bailable clause in the Bill, Ravi Shankar Prasad, reiterated that the Government had an ‘open mind’ on the clause in the Bill that allows a third party to file a complaint.

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Despite Supreme Court’s ruling which came on 22nd August 2017, making instant triple talaq(talaq-e-biddat) in any form-spoken, be it in writing or by electronic means such as email, SMS, and WhatsApp illegal, unconstitutional, and void, with up to three years in jail for the husband and Lok Sabha passing the Bill, the Government, still failed to get it passed in Rajya Sabha and planned to take the ordinance route to criminalise “talaq-e-biddat,” the practice of instant triple talaq among Muslims.

When asked, why the government has not brought an ordinance on triple talaq yet, though it is so serious about the issue, Prasad said, “A call was taken that let us take it to Rajya Sabha and let us see the attitude of others. I want to say (to the Opposition), please have an open mind on triple talaq. It has nothing to do with politics at all. It is only for justice to women.”

While this move was welcomed by the majority, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is generally brisk to react to all developments, had maintained silence over this verdict. Trinamool Congress MLA and West Bengal Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind President, who is also the Library and Mass Education Minister had described the Supreme Court verdict on instant triple talaq “unconstitutional” saying that the court and the government have no right to “interfere in internal matters of Islam”. It is rather ironical that well-informed politicians representing the State bear such opinions.

It is disheartening too, that a state which is represented by a woman itself, fails to provide protection and assurance to the women living there. Ishrat Jahan, one of the five petitioners in the landmark Supreme Court verdict which pronounced instant triple talaq invalid, had faced a social boycott and character assassination back home in Howrah, West Bengal. Jahan had been allegedly facing social boycott and insinuations and being ostracised by her in-laws and neighbours in Howrah’s Pilkhana.

While the women state leader’s plight was such, the Center saw no difference. Sonia Gandhi, who is not only a prominent woman politician but is also the chairperson of UPA, the alliance which was in power for ten years preceding 2014, was missing while the bill seeking to criminalize the practice of instant triple talaq was introduced in the Lok Sabha.

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