1) What is triple talaq?
In Islam, there are different forms of talaq or divorce. Ahsan, Hasan and Talaq-e-Biddat (triple or instant talaq). Ahsan and Hasan are revocable, while Biddat or triple talaq— pronouncing divorce in one go by the husband — is irrevocable.
2) Supreme Court judgment
In 2017, the Supreme Court banned the controversial practice of triple talaq. A five-judge bench ruled that the practice of instant triple talaq is unconstitutional and against the teachings of Islam. The judgment came two years after Shayara Bano from Uttarakhand approached the top court after her husband of 15 years sent her a letter with talaq written thrice and left her. The petition of four other women were tagged along Bano's petition.
3) Back in Rajya Sabha again
On July 25, the Lok Sabha passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 popularly referred to as the Triple Talaq bill. The JD (U), which is part of the NDA alliance walked out of the debate. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, while introducing the bill in Rajya Sabha today said, "Don't look at this issue through political lenses... This is a matter of gender justice, dignity and equality.”
4) Not the first time in Rajya Sabha
Following the Supreme Court verdict in 2017, the law ministry moved the bill immediately making it a criminal offence with a three-year jail term. The bill was then passed in the Lok Sabha, however, it did not make it past a united Opposition in Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA was not in majority.
5) Triple talaq banned
Triple talaq is banned in many Muslim majority countries including Tunisia, Algeria, Malaysia, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Brunei, the UAE, Indonesia, Libya, Sudan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Kuwait. India’s neighbours including Bangladesh and Pakistan have also banned triple talaq.
6) Opposition to the bill
Various parties including the AIMIM, JD(U) and Congress have opposed the bill in current form.
7) Bone of contention
Most of the Opposition parties have said that the criminality clause inserted in the bill may be used by police and other agencies to specifically target Muslims. The clause provides for three-year-imprisonment and remuneration from the man who gives triple talaq to his wife. The government, however, dismissed the opposition and asked parties opposing the bill to look at it as one that seeks to empower and protect the rights of women.
8) How the numbers stack up
Total strength: 245
This includes JD(U) -6, Shiv Sena (3), Akali Dal (3), AIADMK (11) and BJP (78). Independent and nominated members have 12 members. This is assuming independents and the nominated members will vote in favour of the government.
There are four vacant seats in the Upper House, so the majority mark falls to 121.
This implies that the NDA will need just eight more votes to get the bill passed. Support from BJD (7) could help the NDA cross the halfway mark.
Now, if one assumes that the AIADMK (11) and TRS (6) walkout and the JD (U) abstains from voting, the majority drops down to 109. The BJD and other fence sitters YSR Congress could turn the table in favour for the NDA.