Budget session: Govt says ‘will do everything possible’ to get triple talaq bill passed in Rajya Sabha
The NDA government will push the triple talaq bill in the budget session of Parliament starting on Monday but is likely to face a stiff challenge from the Opposition, which stalled the legislation in the Rajya Sabha in the winter session.
Opposition parties insisted the proposed law be referred to a select committee for scrutiny. After an all-party meeting on Sunday, the government said it will do “everything possible” to ensure the bill’s passage in the budget session.
“We will leave no stone unturned in talking to and convincing all the political parties to ensure that the triple talaq bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha. The way they have passed GST unanimously, we request them to pass this too unanimously,” parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar said.
“Let the House decide,” Kumar said in response to a question on the Opposition’s demand that the bill be referred to a select committee for wider deliberations.
The Lok Sabha on December 28 passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill which criminalises instant triple talaq and stipulates up to three years of jail time and a penalty for violators. However, consensus eluded the two sides when the bill was taken up in the Upper House where the NDA lacks the numbers to push bills through without opposition support.
The bill was passed in the Lower House but not without opposition members expressing concern that the penal clause criminalises an action that is essentially covered under personal law. The clause could be misused, they said. Some Muslim women’s groups also raised concerns about how maintenance to the wife would be paid if the husband was jailed.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board, which opposed the law, said if the Rajya Sabha passed the bill, it would approach the Supreme Court, which, in August held the practice of instant divorce as illegal.
The top court, while calling the practice unconstitutional, did not rule on or suggest criminalising the practice.
Sunday’s meeting was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Ananth Kumar, besides leaders of the Opposition and other parties. The budget session will open with President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament on Monday. Following the address, the economic survey will be tabled in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
The first part of the session will end on February 9. After the recess, the session will resume on March 5 and continue till April 6.
At the all-party meeting, Modi said the government gives huge importance to issues raised by all political parties, and exhorted the leaders to collectively strive to create a constructive atmosphere in the budget session to achieve “national good”.
Modi also urged all political parties to “prevent tokenism” in different standing committees of Parliament and ensure they play “a more constructive role” to give concrete solutions to issues of national importance brought before such panels.
During the session, the Congress and other opposition parties are also likely to deliberate on CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury’s proposal to move a motion to remove Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The Congress has maintained that it will wait for other parties to respond to the suggestion.
The opposition also plans to counter the government on issues such as incidents of rape and other atrocities on women, alleged attacks on the Constitution and constitutional institutions and the plight of traders, besides the recent communal violence in Uttar Pradesh.
“We want to raise these issues as they are important. The government should adopt a cooperative attitude and allow the Opposition to raise these issues,” Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said.