Winter Session of Parliament: Rajya Sabha adjourned four times amid uproar over Bhima-Koregaon violence, triple talaq bill

The Parliament saw a stormy session on Wednesday with the Rajya Sabha being adjourned four times amidst uproar on Maharashtra bandh and triple talaq bill.

As soon as the Upper House convened at 2 pm after two adjournments earlier, BSP MP Satish Chandra Mishra stood up and demanded a discussion on the bandh, saying "peaceful people" were targeted in Maharashtra and accusing the state government of hatching a conspiracy. However, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien told him that the matter had already been disposed of by Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu earlier in the day.

Hearing this, several members, including Congress leader Anand Sharma, stood up and claimed that entire Maharashtra was burning due to caste violence.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The BJP also held its parliamentary board meeting on Wednesday, where they discussed the triple talaq bill and the Constitution's 123rd amendment bill which will give constitutional status to the OBC commission.

Maharashtra violence

One of the simmering issues in the two Houses on Wednesday was the Dalit protests in Maharashtra. As the Congress and the BJP clashed in the Lok Sabha, Congress leaders blamed the state's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the unrest while the BJP accused the Congress of politicising the issue and "dividing the masses".

Before the issue was raised, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan cautioned that allegations and counter-allegations cannot solve the problem.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said atrocities against Dalits were on the rise and blamed "some fascist powers" for it.

The Congress demanded a probe in the Bhima-Koregaon incident headed by a Supreme Court judge and a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue.

"When Dalits start living with dignity, and organise some event, there are some people who try to disturb it. This happened in Koregaon (in Pune district)," Kharge said.

Jan Adhikar Party (JAP) leader and Madhepura MP Pappu Yadav gave adjournment motion notice in Lok Sabha over Bhima Koregaon violence issue

Triple talaq bill

The government on Wednesday tabled the triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha amid uproar, with the Congress and other Opposition parties demanding that it be referred to a parliamentary panel for detailed consideration.

As Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tabled the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, which seeks to criminalise instant divorce by uttering talaq thrice, Congress leader Anand Sharma moved a notice asking the legislation be referred to a select committee.

Prasad objected, saying the Congress was stalling the Bill and not understanding the urgency to enact the law that criminalises the practice of instant triple talaq and imposes a jail term of up to three years on the guilty husband. The bill was earlier cleared by the Lok Sabha on 28 December.

Prasad said "the practice continues" even after the triple talaq bill was passed in the Lok Sabha and cited an alleged case of a woman in Moradabad who was divorced instantly over dowry.

Sharma argued the Bill had shortcomings and needed to be referred to a panel to clear them.

"The rule is very clear. If the member in charge moves the bill, it will be taken into consideration. I move the following motion that this House being strongly committed to women's rights wants to refer the bill to (a) Select Committee," said Sharma, also a member of the Business Advisory Committee.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also the Leader of the House, mounted a strong defence of the government saying the Bill had already been circulated two to three days in advance.

"Notice for consideration of an amendment has to be given at least one day ahead. This motion was not given one day before," Jaitley said.

OBC bill

Earlier, the government on Wednesday tabled in the Lok Sabha the crucial OBC bill, proposing to negate the amendments proposed by the Rajya Sabha in the last session, with the ruling BJP asserting that it underscored the government's commitment to empower backward classes.

The Bill, which proposes constitutional status for the OBC commission, carries most of the provisions it had in its original version passed by the Lok Sabha before the Opposition got amendments passed in the Upper House in the last session.

However, the discussion on the Constitution (123rd Amendment) Bill 2017 ended abruptly due to heated exchanges between Union minister Giriraj Singh and TMC member Kalyan Banerjee, which led Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn the House till Thursday.

The government has no plans to accord minority status to linguistic minorities, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday. Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi stated this in a written reply.

To a query whether the government has any plan to give minority status to linguistic minorities, Naqvi replied, "No, madam".

To another query, he said the Centre declared six communities as minorities at national level under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 04, 2018 07:13:11 IST

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