Triple talaq bill hits opposition hurdle in Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: The bill to criminalize instant triple talaq made little headway in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday amid indications that it might now be referred to a select committee even as the opposition and government exchanged heated political barbs that led to the House being adjourned for the day by late afternoon.
The deadlock in the Upper House saw BJP ally TDP join the opposition ranks in seeking to move a resolution to send the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 to a select committee — it comprises Rajya Sabha members — for further vetting.
There was no decision on whether a panel would be set up, but the government did not appear disinclined to consider such a proposal as BJP leaders felt they had made a point in arguing that while the party was keen to give teeth to a Supreme Court ruling holding triple talaq, or instant divorce, among Muslims unconstitutional, the opposition is stalling the move. Besides Congress, Samajwadi Party and Trinamool Congress, the proposal for a select committee was backed by AIADMK, BSP, DMK, NCP, CPI, CPI(M), TDP, RJD, BJD, JMM, IUML and nominated member KTS Tulsi.
BJP leaders felt the limits of Congress’s “soft Hindu” tactics seen in the recent Gujarat election had been exposed with the main opposition allying with the Left and regional outfits like SP, BSP, NCP and RJD in opposing criminalization of triple talaq and making it punishable with athree-year jail term. Congress leaders argued that BJP was seeking credit for what had been set out in the SC order and over-reading parts that speak of the need for a legislation by Parliament.
Congress saw the opposition mobilization, with TDP also crossing over, as a rationale for supporting the committee option with numbers on its side and is firm on insisting on a vote. Congress leaders also feel that by insisting on a short deadline they can counter the charge of delaying the bill to the detriment of Muslim women. The bill could only be tabled by the government after 3pm with proceedings repeatedly disrupted over the violence in Pune.
Sure of the opposition numbers in the House, leader of opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad called for a vote on the select committee proposal, putting the government on the backfoot and finally leading to the adjournment of the House. Leader of the House and finance minister Arun Jaitley accused Congress of derailing abill that it had approved in the Lok Sabha.
He pointed to flaws in the rule under which Congress sought to move a resolution seeking to refer the bill to a select committee. Both sides accused each other of using the issue for vote-bank politics. Jaitley said the legislature needs to work responsibly as the SC, while terming triple talaq unconstitutional, had barred it for 6 months and that a law seeking to criminalize the practice had to come into effect within that period.
Congress MP Kapil Sibal though accused Jaitley of misleading the House, saying that only the minority verdict was being quoted and that there is no urgency in the matter.

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