BJP, Congress spar over triple talaq bill in Rajya Sabha

ANI | Updated: Jan 03, 2018 17:56 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan 3 (ANI): A united Opposition, led by the Congress party, took on the Centre over the proposed triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha, on Wednesday.

A pandemonium broke out in the Upper House soon after the bill was tabled by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Congress leader Anand Sharma moved the notice to refer the bill to a select committee of Rajya Sabha. He even proposed the names of committee members following which the Upper House witnessed a stormy session.

The names of the 17 Rajya Sabha MPs, featuring in the list, included Renuka Chowdhury, K Rahman Khan, Derek O'Brien, Javed Ahmad, Majeed Memon, KK Ragesh, and D Raja.

The government had, on Tuesday, shot down the Opposition's demand that the triple talaq bill be sent to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha. It had, however, said it might be open to accepting some of the amendments to the bill, as suggested by the Opposition.

To this end, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Congress moved the motion without any prior notice and that it was trying to derail the bill.

"The house is taken by surprise that a motion is suddenly moved and it has not been submitted a day before. The motion has to be given at least 24 hours in advance. 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," Jaitley said, in the Rajya Sabha.

He further said the bill should not be referred to the select committee as the triple talaq has already been declared as unconstitutional and unfair by the Supreme Court.

"The reason why it should not be referred (to a select committee) is because the practice was declared unconstitutional, two of the judges held it as unfair and used their extraordinary power to suspend it for six months, which expires on February 22," he averred.

In response, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said Jaitley was referring to the ruling of Supreme Court which was only in context of the minority judgement.

"He (Arun Jaitley) referred to judgment of Supreme Court, 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 judgment," Sibal said.

The rebuttal led to the Rajya Sabha getting adjourned till 11 am tomorrow, following which Ravi Shankar Prasad accused the Congress party of resorting to double standard in the matter of the bill.

"Today what happened in the Rajya Sabha is a matter of deep regret. The Congress party, which supported the bill in the Lok Sabha, took a completely divergent view in the Rajya Sabha. What is the problem of the Congress party? Congress' attitude of double standard and patent political hypocrisy is designed to deny the benefit of Muslim women," Prasad said, while briefing the media outside the Parliament.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal also hit out at Congress, saying that party had ditched the Muslim women by opposing the bill.

"Congress' vote bank politics has become evident. This kind of divisive politics will give no dividend to the Congress party. The party ditched the Muslim women," he added.

The Opposition retorted to the BJP leaders and said the bill was faulty.

"We are all for this bill, but it is a faulty bill. No womens' groups, stakeholders were consulted. All we ask for is that talk to all stakeholders," Trinamool Congress MP Derek O' Brien told the media.

Moreover, Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal did not approve of the presence of the Muslim women who has reportedly attended the session to observe the tabling of the bill.

"Iski kya guarantee hai ki woh Muslim thhi? Aapne dekha? Kya pata BJP ke mahila morcha ki sadasya hon? [What's the proof that she was a Muslim? She might have been a BJP insider]" Agrawal said.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 seeks to criminalise instant divorce, triple talaq.

The bill was passed in the Lok Sabha with most of the leading parties in the Opposition, including the Congress, voting in favour, but with caveats.

The bill, if enacted, will make triple talaq a criminal offence. It proposes a three-year jail term for a Muslim man who divorces his wife in any form of spoken, written or by electronic means such as email, SMS, and WhatsApp. (ANI)