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Political slugfest over triple talaq bill, BJP says Cong ‘ganged up’ with other parties to oppose move

Sparks flew in the Rajya Sabha as the Opposition demanded that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill be referred to a Select Committee.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2018 08:23 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Finance minister Arun Jaitley speaks in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley speaks in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.(PTI Photo)

The triple talaq bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, but with the Congress and other opposition parties adamant that it be sent to a parliamentary committee, and the government equally adamant that it not be, it looks unlikely to be passed in the current session of Parliament that ends on Friday -- unless the government manages to break the deadlock in some way.

The government accused the opposition, including the Congress party, of double standards for supporting the bill in the Lok Sabha where the Bharatiya Janata Party is in majority. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is in minority in the Rajya Sabha.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Congress of “political hypocrisy”, saying the party supported the triple talaq bill in Lok Sabha, but “cobbled up” with other parties to stall the legislation in Rajya Sabha.

The remark came after the Upper House was adjourned for the day amid heated exchanges between BJP and the opposition over sending the triple talaq bill to select committee.

“We are certainly deeply distressed by the political hypocrisy of the Congress party. They supported (the bill) in the Lok Sabha...In Rajya Sabha, they ganged up with other political parties, and opposed it,” Prasad told a TV channel.

Highlights of the proceedings in Parliament

Prasad earlier introduced the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 for consideration and passing, but while the BJP pressed for its expeditious passage, the opposition demanded that the bill be referred to a select panel of Parliament for consideration.

The bill, which seeks to make instant triple talaq (a quick divorce, which just entails the world talaq being mentioned thrice) illegal with a prison sentence of up to three years for the offending husband, was passed by the Lok Sabha on December 28.

While supporting the direction of the bill, some experts and opposition parties have questioned the wisdom of ascribing criminality to a civil offence.

Both the Congress and the Trinamool Congress moved resolutions to send the bill to a select committee. The Congress said the committee, once appointed, should submit its report in the first week of the budget session that is likely to begin in late January.

Prasad, who stressed the need to pass the bill urgently citing a Supreme Court judgment pronouncing triple talaq as unconstitutional, said instances of triple talaq were still being reported. The Congress and other opposition parties said they are in favour of the bill but do not want a faulty legislation.

Leader of the House Arun Jaitley termed Congress leader Anand Sharma’s motion to set up a select committee as “invalid” because the rule cited by Sharma justifying his request was not applicable in this case where the bill did not orginate from the Upper House but originated in the Lok Sabha. He also added that notice for the creation of the select panel had not been issued, breaking parliamentary procedure.

“The whole country is watching that in the other House you supported the bill and here you are trying to derail it,” Jaitley added, seeking a ruling from the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Venkaiah Naidu, on the matter.

Jaitley later lashed out at the Congress for “indirectly” opposing the triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha and said Muslim women would continue to face injustice due to its attitude.

With PTI inputs

First Published: Jan 03, 2018 17:01 IST

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