New Delhi, Jan 3: A united Opposition faced-off with the Centre over the triple talaq bill, which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday.
As Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 for discussion, pandemonium broke out in the Upper House. The government, which wants a debate on the bill and quickly ensure its clearance, was stymied by the uproar raised by members of the Opposition.
“Even after passage of triple talaq bill in Lok Sabha the practice is continuing, a woman in Moradabad was given instant talaq over dowry,” minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said to underline the urgency of approving the proposed legislation into law.
In the midst of this, Congress MP Anand Sharma moved a notice demanding the triple talaq bill be referred to a select committee for further consideration. Leader of the House Arun Jaitley hit out at the opposition for changing its stance on the triple talaq bill and accused them of trying to sabotage it.
“The whole country is watching that in the other house you supported the bill and in this house you are trying to derail the bill. Opposition shouldn’t join hands with ‘break India’ forces,” Jaitley said, which sparked an outcry from the opposition benches.
The finance minister cited the Supreme Court’s judgment setting aside the centuries old practice of triple talaq to justify the Centre’s objection to send the bill to a select committee.
“The reason why it should not be referred (to select committee) is that when the practice was declared unconstitutional, 2 of the judges held it as unfair and used their extraordinary power to suspend it for 6 months, which expire on February 22. Judges said, ‘We are now suspending it for 6 months and we beseech all parties, therefore within this period come out with apt legislation.’ So, there is an urgency that country expects from Parliament. Legislature must act with sense of responsibility,” Jaitley stressed.
Congress leader and senior advocate Kapil Sibal debunked Jaitley’s claim, pointing out that the BJP leader was quoting from the minority judgment penned by former CJI J S Khehar and Justice Abdul Nazeer. Triple talaq was declared unconstitutional by 3:2 majority.
“He (Arun Jaitley) referred to judgement of SC, I want to correct the record because I appeared in the case on behalf of Muslim Personal Law Board. What he said was in context of the minority judgement,” Sibal told deputy chairman PJ Kurien, who was presiding over the proceedings.
Attempting to quash the opposition’s strategy to stall the bill, Jaitley said that the motion to send the bill for perusal to a select committee had not been submitted 24 hours in advance, as is the procedure in the Rajya Sabha.