Triple talaq bill to be taken up in Rajya Sabha today; Congress, BJP issue whips to members to be present in House
The Congress and the BJP have issued whips to their members to be present in the House on Monday, when the triple talaq bill will be taken up for discussion.
New Delhi: The contentious triple talaq bill that seeks to criminalise the practice of instant divorce among Muslims is set to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, with the Congress and other Opposition parties gearing up to send it to a select committee.
The Congress and the BJP have issued whips to their members to be present in the House on Monday and other parties have also asked their MPs to be present in full strength when the bill is taken up.
The Congress has convened a meeting of its MPs. A number of Opposition parties will also meet Monday morning in the chamber of Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad to evolve their strategy in the house on the issue.
The contentious triple talaq bill is likely to face stiff resistance from Opposition parties, who are united in their demand for sending it to the select committee for further scrutiny.
"Opposition parties will meet Monday morning and evolve their strategy. But, we all are determined to send the bill to the select committee as the same cannot be passed in its present form. The Opposition parties are united in this stand on the issue," a senior Opposition leader told PTI.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu is unlikely to be present on Monday due to the demise of his mother-in-law and Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha Harivansh is likely to conduct the proceedings instead.
The Congress has said it will not allow the passage of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, in its present form and it along with other parties are keen that the proposed legislation be sent to a select committee for further scrutiny.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad will table the bill in the Upper House. It has already been passed by the Lok Sabha, with 245 voting in favour and 11 opposing it, Thursday amid a walkout by the Opposition parties. It is listed in the Rajya Sabha's legislative agenda for Monday.
Prasad had Friday claimed the bill will find support in the Rajya Sabha, where the BJP-led NDA lacks numbers.
Sources said the numbers are stacked slightly in favour of the Opposition in the Upper House, with the UPA having 112 members and the NDA 93.
One seat is vacant. The remaining 39 members of other parties are unattached to either NDA or UPA and are likely to play an important role in the passage of the contentious legislation.
Though the NDA is way short of the half-way mark of 123 in the 245-member House, it had emerged victorious in the election of the Rajya Sabha deputy chairman, with its nominee Harivansh of the Janata Dal (United) bagging 125 votes against 101 polled by the opposition-backed Congress member BK Hariprasad.
Congress leader T Subbarami Reddy has moved a statutory resolution that "this House disapproves the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018 (No.7 of 2018) promulgated by the President of India on 19 September, 2018".
Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel also sought the support of all parties for the passage of the triple talaq bill a day before it is taken up in the Rajya Sabha.
"It is high time we ensure justice for our Muslim sisters. They have gone through so much pain because of this inhuman practice of triple talaq," Goel said.
The bill seeks to protect the rights of married Muslim women and to prohibit divorce by their husbands by pronouncing talaq. It also seeks to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The Opposition has questioned the stringent provisions like criminalisation of a civil wrong in the triple talaq bill.
In the Lok Sabha, the Opposition had demanded that the bill be referred to a 'Joint Select Committee' of Parliament for further scrutiny.
On Thursday, the government rejected the Opposition's contention that it was aimed at targeting a particular community.
Piloting the bill, Prasad had said there should be no politics on the proposed legislation, stressing it was not against any particular community.
Describing the passage of the triple talaq bill in the Lok Sabha as a historic step towards ensuring equality and dignity of Muslim women, BJP chief Amit Shah had demanded an apology from the Congress for "decades of injustice".
The fresh bill to make the practice of triple talaq among Muslims a penal offence was introduced in Lok Sabha on 17 December to replace an ordinance issued in September.
Under the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void, and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
The fresh bill will supersede an earlier bill passed in the Lok Sabha and pending in the Rajya Sabha.
But amid Opposition by some parties in the upper house, the government had cleared some amendments, including introduction of a provision of bail, to make it more acceptable.
However, after it faced resistance in Rajya Sabha, the government issued an ordinance in September, incorporating the amendments.
An ordinance has a life of six months. But from the day a session begins, it has to be replaced by a bill which should be passed by Parliament within 42 days (six weeks), else it lapses.
In the Lok Sabha, the law minister had said despite the Supreme Court striking down the practice of talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq), terming it unconstitutional, divorces in this form were taking place.
Citing details of instant triple talaq cases, the government had last week informed the Lok Sabha that till now 430 incidents of triple talaq have come to the notice of the government through the media.
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