India's Parliament approves bill ending instant divorce for Muslims

India's Parliament approves bill ending instant divorce for Muslims”

Indian lawmakers have passed legislation banning the Muslim practice known as 'instant divorce.' Proponents of the bill say it will protect Muslim women while critics argue its penalties are too harsh and target Muslims unfairly. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter on Tuesday and congratulated all those who had voted in favour of the Bill in Rajya Sabha.

Indian Muslim women walk in a market place in New Delhi, India. It will become law after India's president approves it, which is a formality.

Triple talaq allowed a Muslim man to instantly divorce his wife by simply saying the word "talaq" three times. "This is a victory of gender justice and will further equality in society", he said before concluding, "India rejoices today!"

The more powerful lower house approved the bill last week.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the bill's approval by the upper house of parliament reflects the empowerment of women and India's changing profile.

Some Muslim women's groups celebrated at events across India, which has followed Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in regulating "triple talaq".

Jilani said a petition against the law had almost 50 million signatories across India.

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Some Indian Muslim groups have said triple talaq is wrong, but believe the practice should be reviewed by community leaders rather than the Government.

The opposition had blocked the bill for more than a year, as the ruling party lacked majority support in the upper house.

Following his resounding victory in general elections in May, his government sought to pass the contentious legislation against a significantly weakened and dispirited opposition, even as several opposition parliamentarians argued against making divorce a criminal act.

The INC and other opposition figures have also accused the Hindu nationalist BJP of targeting Muslims with the bill, questioning the need for new legislation when the divorce practice was already legally invalidated in the country's highest court.

Both houses of parliament rejected the opposition stand and also refused to refer the bill to a parliamentary committee to consider those provisions.

There have been cases in which Muslim men in India have divorced their wives by issuing the so-called triple talaq by letter, telephone and, increasingly, by text message, WhatsApp and Skype.

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