Now that the Cabinet has been announced and the government has formed successfully (not to forget the overwhelming victory that the public mandate has provided them), let’s take a look back at all the bills that the Modi Government issued in parliament last year. 2019 might see a few reissues this year.
This bill has had a roller-coaster ride in the parliament but unlike your mental state, this bill just might be settled once and for all.
The bill was introduced in the winter session of Lok Sabha back in December 2017. The bill was then passed through the Lok Sabha but faced heavy backlash in the Rajya Sabha where the opposition stood against the bill. Then, the bill was reintroduced with certain changes and was again passed by the Lok Sabha but this lapsed because the parliament was dissolved by the president on May 24, on account of the elections.
The bill makes all declaration of talaq, including in written or electronic form, to be void (i.e. not enforceable in law) and illegal. It defines talaq as talaq-e-biddat or any other similar form of talaq pronounced by a Muslim man resulting in instant and irrevocable divorce. Talaq-e-biddat refers to the practice under Muslim personal laws where pronouncement of the word ‘talaq’ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife results in an instant and irrevocable divorce.
The offence would only be cognizible if it is filed by
a) the married woman against whom it talaq has been declared or by
b) any person related to her by blood or by marriage.
A Muslim woman against whom talaq has been declared is entitled to seek allowance and custody of her minor children, the manner of which would be decided by the magistrate. But there are certain fundamental flaws in this law:
1) the talaq-e-biddat practice was already declared to be unconstitutional by a majority judgement of 3:2 by a five-judge bench. So, why this criminalising?
2) when the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha (twice) there was literally no Muslim woman who could have argued either against or for the judgement which is super weird, it’s like men sitting around and deciding what kind of pads women should wear.
3) why is just a Muslim man being held for trial when there are ample cases of unconstitutional deserting of Indian women across ethnicities?
4) How is a Muslim man who has been charged based on this law provide allowances if he is supposed to spend three years in jail?
So, why was the right-wing Hindu nationalist party so keen on passing this bill? If they are so worried about women empowerment, then the law shouldn’t discriminate across ethnicities, because women suffer this unconstitutional divorce everywhere.
Anyway, let’s keep logic aside. As the Modi Sarkar has now returned to power, we might see this bill being reintroduced and potentially become law.
This bill is clearly a systematic practice that will be employed by the establishment to target minorities and potentially convert our secular and liberal country (at least as far as our Constitution is concerned) into a country like Israel.
This amendment to the Citizenship Bill of 1955 conveniently changes the very definition of an illegal migrant, it says, “In the Citizenship Act, 1955 (hereinafter referred to as the principal Act), in section 2, in sub-section (1), after clause (b), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:—
Provided that persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who have been exempted by the Central Government by or under clause (c) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 or from the application of the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 or any order made thereunder, shall not be treated as illegal migrants for the purposes of this Act.”
This was one of the biggest talked about topics in the 2019 elections, specifically in West Bengal and Assam, where it faced serious backlash.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 provided Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the current norm, even if they do not possess any document.
The NRC which is being implemented in Assam has already declared 40 lakh people to be the non-citizens, would be implemented all around the country as professed by Amit Shah in a rally; the BJP even tweeted about it. This has certain problems too:
1) how do you implement and make a nationwide NRC?
2) how are poor people across the country who find it difficult to even survive supposed to verify their citizenship by finding documents which may be years old?
3) what about the word ‘secular’ that has been mentioned in our Constitution?
4) what will the government do with these ‘infiltrators?’
As said earlier, these might be reissued this year, and the parliament might succeed in legislating them. Should you be worried? Decide for yourself.