The Congress on Thursday said it supports the triple talaq Bill but suggested that it be strengthened in favour of Muslim women and the law must ensure that subsistence allowance and maintenance to the women and the children is not stopped.
“Congress was the first political party to welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to ban the practice of instant triple talaq and that this is a firm step towards the protection of women’s rights,” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
The party supported the law to ban instant triple talaq and “we believe that there is a need to strengthen this law”. “We have certain suggestions to strengthen it to protect the rights of these women,” he said.
Surjewala said Section 5, which was proposed in this law, stated that ‘subsistence allowance would be given to Muslim women’.
“But we want to ask how much that allowance would be, and what are parameters for deciding it? What percentage of it would be taken from the husband’s income? These things are not mentioned in this bill. This needs to be mentioned and considered to secure the rights of women,” he said.
Surjewala also said that in the Muslim Woman Protection of Rights on Divorce Act, 1986, sections 3 and 4 already spoke about maintenance, “but the current bill does not”.
“This bill also does not mention that if the woman is provided subsistence allowance, then will she also be provided with maintenance. This has to be included in the new law so that the woman is not denied maintenance by her husband which is clearly mentioned in sections 3 and 4 of the 1986 Act,” he added.
He said that under the proposed law, the responsibility of proving triple talaq had been put on the woman. “Why can’t this responsibility be shifted to the husband? The government should give a thought on these points which will make this law even more solid,” he said.
Surjewala added that this law also stated that the accused would be put behind bars for three years.
“But the government should think that if the man, on whom there is the responsibility of providing subsistence and maintenance, is in jail, how will the children and the woman get the allowance and who will then be responsible for providing that amount?
“It is also not mentioned that if the husband does not have any tangible property then how will the woman and children survive? These points have to be considered by the government for the welfare of women,” he said.
The Congress leader said the Bill needed to be strengthened in favour of women and Muslim women per se. “The concern that the Congress has expressed… have any punishment that you want… but ensure that the subsistence allowance under this act and maintenance under the 1986 Act for the children and Muslim women is not stopped.
“If the person, who is supposed to pay maintenance as also subsistence allowance, is in jail, does this Bill ensure that both maintenance and subsistence allowance would be recovered from his estate or property. The answer is no,” he added.
“… Can such a provision be made, the government should consider it. What if the property is joint. Does the Bill provide that the property can be divided and maintenance paid. The answer is no. Should the government consider it. The answer is yes.”
Surjewala also asked what if the person did not have enough property to pay for that subsistence allowance and maintenance, “has the government made any other provision, the answer is no”.
All issues of payment of maintenance and subsistence allowance had been placed and the government would have to answer to those, he added.