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Posted at: Jan 4, 2018, 2:07 AM; last updated: Jan 4, 2018, 9:44 AM (IST)

Triple talaq Bill hits Rajya Sabha roadblock

Opposition wants it referred to select panel, govt pushes for a debate
Triple talaq Bill hits Rajya Sabha roadblock

Aditi Tandon/Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3

The BJP-led government’s showpiece Bill to criminalise instant triple talaq ran into expected roadblocks today with a numerically superior Opposition in Rajya Sabha demanding that the proposed Bill be sent to a select committee for scrutiny, while the government insisting on its urgent passage citing the Supreme Court orders.

As the fate of the Bill hung in the balance with just two days left for the winter session, the government accused the Congress of being “anti-women” and “anti-gender justice”, while the Congress maintained it wanted the proposed Bill debated for “complete justice to Muslim women”.

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Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad barely managed to introduce the contentious Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 post lunch following serial disruptions of the House by the Opposition, which wanted caste violence in Maharashtra debated today.

As soon as the Bill was introduced, acrimonious exchanges followed as the Congress-led Opposition cited its majority in the House to seek the Bill’s reference to a select committee, something the government didn’t allow.

Congress’ deputy leader Anand Sharma moved an amendment to the Bill seeking that it be sent to a 17-member select committee comprising three Congress MPs; one each of the TMC, AIADMK, SP, BSP, DMK, NCP, CPM, TDP, BJD, RJD, JMM, CPI and IUML and KTS Tulsi, a nominated member.

The amendment notice mentioned that the ruling BJP could give names of its members for the committee. It was allowed by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien though the government later contested the admission of the amendment before House Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, challenging the very validity of the notice. The government said the notice to be valid must have proportional representation but it did not have the names of BJP MPs.

Earlier, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley questioned the amendment saying a 24-hour notice was required to send any Bill to a House committee and that only a Bill introduced in the RS could be referred to its select committee. As for the Opposition, the gist of arguments its leaders made, including Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad and TMC’s Derek O’ Brien, was contained in the notice itself. The notice read: “The House being strongly committed to women’s empowerment and women’s rights refers the Bill as passed by the Lok Sabha to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha for parliamentary scrutiny and to ensure complete justice to the women and safeguarding their interests and welfare”.

With the government and the Opposition refusing to blink, the day ended abruptly with the future of the Bill unclear as politics overshadowed its purpose.

The government took the opportunity to question the Congress for “stalling the Bill” with both Prasad and Jaitley attacking the principal Opposition party’s “delaying tactics in the form of house disruptions today”.

Jaitley also cited a minority judgment in the instant triple talaq case to argue that the SC had put the practice on hold for six months hoping Parliament would legislate on the matter by then.


Cong: Govt misleading

This government is trying to mislead Muslim women and the general public… What are they giving to Muslim women? They are merely projecting themselves as their ‘messiah’, but they are in fact only trying to fool Muslim women — Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress

BJP: You’re shamming

It has become clear that the Congress is indirectly opposing the triple talaq Bill. It was a mere sham that they gave a statement and supported the Bill. They tried their best to ensure that this Bill is not passed in the Rajya Sabha— Arun Jaitley, Finance Minister

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