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Triple Talaq bill hits Rajya Sabha wall as Oppn digs heels

The bill to criminalise the practice of instant triple talaq will have to wait to become a law, as the NDA government failed to push it in the Rajya Sabha on Monday amid disruptions.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2018 22:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Triple Talaq bill,Rajya Sabha,Triple Talaq Rajya Sabha
Muslim women protest against Triple Talaq Bill at Ramlila Ground in New Delhi.(Raj K Raj/HT FILE PHOTO)

The bill to criminalise the practice of instant triple talaq will have to wait to become a law, as the NDA government failed to push it in the Rajya Sabha on Monday amid disruptions.

The bill, passed twice in the Lok Sabha in as many years, could lapse if it doesn’t get the approval of the Upper House by February, when the second phase of the winter session will be held.

After the original bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha in 2017, the government amended it and brought it again before the Lower House during the current session.

While key opposition parties such as the Congress and the Trinamool Congress are not opposed to the essence of the bill- protection for married Muslim women against instant triple talaq-they want it subjected to parliamentary scrutiny.

Congress leader Anand Sharma summed up the mood of the opposition benches as he said, “We are not opposed to the bill. The government is doing politics. Without legislative scrutiny, the bill cannot be passed.”

Later, talking to reporters outside the House, Congress president Rahul Gandhi indicated that the Opposition will be firm on its demand.

“We have already made our stand clear on the triple talaq bill,” he said.

As the bill came up for introduction, the Trinamool Congress’s floor leader Derek O’Brien said 15 opposition parties including the Trinamool Congress itself, the Congress, the SP, the BSP, the DMK, the JDU and the RJD wanted it to be sent to a select committee.

His notice was supported by leaders such as Ghulam Nabi Azad, the BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra, the DMK’s Tiruchia Siva, the AIADMK’s A Naveenethakrishnan, and others.

Later O’Brien told Hindustan Times that while the Opposition had 116 MPs on its side, the government had 100 lawmakers on its side at best.

“The rules are clear that before the government wants to move the bill, the House will have to decide on our resolution under rule 125 of the House,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House, Ghulam Nabi Azad, pointed out that since 1993 (when the parliamentary standing committees came to existence) “all bills are referred to standing committees or select committees for reviews. But this government has broken this tradition as this bill has not faced any review.”

Junior minister for parliamentary affairs Vijay Goyal said that in 2017, when the triple talaq bill was first passed by the Lok Sabha the Congress had supported it and last week when it was brought again in the Lower House the principal opposition party participated in the debate.

When proceedings resumed after 15 minutes, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government was ready for a debate on the bill and appealed to the Opposition to look at it as an issue of humanity given that the practice of instant divorce continued even after a Supreme Court ban.

The stalemate and heated arguments amid disruptions prompted deputy chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh to adjourn the house for the day. Both sides accused the other of “doing politics”.

The House will resume its proceedings on Wednesday after the New Year’s break, but chances of the bill’s passage appear feeble, with the opposition parties adamant on their demand. A senior opposition leader described the situation as “political compulsion on both sides”.

In the amended bill, a provision for bail of the accused has been included. Only the victim or her family can lodge complaints with the police as per the new bill while the original version allowed anyone to do so.

(with inputs from agencies)

First Published: Dec 31, 2018 22:39 IST