The Government and the opposition once again clashed over the fresh Triple Talaq bill tabled in the Lok Sabha on Friday, that seeks to make the practice “void and illegal and an offence punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fine”.

As discussion on the bill opened, Congress MP from Kerala Shashi Tharoor said the government should bring a uniform law and not one that only targets Muslim men.

“Men from other religions also desert their wives,” Tharoor said. “There are no procedural safeguards in the bill, refer it to a standing committee… it is a discriminatory bill,” he added.

Objecting to the penal provision in the bill for the Muslim man, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi called the bill “discriminatory”

“Why put the burden of proof on Muslim women? Who will pay the maintenance if the Muslim man is jailed for 3 years? Will you?” he asked.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad defended the bill saying that it was about justice and women empowerment and will protect the rights of Muslim women.

“People have chosen us to make laws. It is our work to make laws. Law is to give justice to the victims of Triple Talaq,” Prasad told the Lok Sabha.

The law seeks to declare the practice of triple talaq to be void and illegal and makes it an offence punishable with imprisonment up to three years and fine.

Following the discussion in the Lok Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad told media that it was “disappointing” that the Congress chose to oppose the introduction of the bill.

“It was a matter of great distress that Congress chose to oppose the introduction of Triple Talaq Bill. Earlier they had not opposed it, last time they had walked out from Lok Sabha. But today, they were siding with the likes of Owaisi who were opposing it,” Prasad said.

Meanwhile, voting for the introduction of Triple Talaq Bill 2019 in Lok Sabha was held through paper slips as the new MPs have not yet been allotted division number that allows them to vote using polling machine.

Earlier, on June 12, the Union Cabinet approved the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019, paving the way for the legislation to be introduced in Parliament.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 will replace an ordinance issued in February by the previous BJP-led NDA government.

Earlier on Thursday, President Ram Nath Kovind, while addressing a joint session of the Parliament, had called for the removal of practices like ‘Triple Talaq’ and Nikah-Halala’ to ensure equal rights for women.

President Kovind in February promulgated the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Second Ordinance, 2019 to give continued effect to the provisions brought in by Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019.

A Bill to convert the earlier ordinance, issued in September 2018, was cleared by the Lok Sabha in December and was pending in the Rajya Sabha, which lapsed on June 3.

The Supreme Court had in August 2017 declared “Triple Talaq” unconstitutional and in violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which provides for equality before the law and directed the government to enact a law on the issue.