Union Cabinet Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who took charge of the Ministry of Law and Justice on Monday, said that the Narendra Modi government will reintroduce the triple talaq Bill in Parliament. The Bill makes talaq-e-biddat a cognizable offence punishable by imprisonment up to three years.
Prasad said the ban on triple talaq “is part of the BJP political manifesto” and, therefore, will be introduced in Parliament. In December last, the triple talaq Bill was passed in Lok Sabha but it remained pending in Rajya Sabha. The opposition has pitched for referring the Bill to a joint panel of the Parliament, claiming that specific provisions were unconstitutional and that there was a need for further examination.
The government, which has rejected the Opposition’s demand, has twice promulgated The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2019. The ordinance lapsed after the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha. On Monday, replying to question on whether the government will introduce the Bill again, Prasad said, “Yes. Obviously. (The issue of) triple talaq is part of our manifesto. Why not?”
On the contentious issue of the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) to be followed for appointments to the higher judiciary, Prasad said the government “will work it out” with the Supreme Court on finalisation of the MoP. “We will work it out. I have already conveyed it to you that there are certain issues about screening etc on which we have two views. But there is always a healthy meeting ground which we will be able to find,” he said.
The government and the Supreme Court collegium are yet to find common ground in drafting the revised MoP. After striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act in October 2015, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to finalise the existing MoP in consultation with the SC collegium, taking into account issues such as secretariat, transparency and complaint mechanism.
With several appointments to the higher judiciary pending, the Law Minister said neither he nor his ministry will be a “post office” on judicial appointments and that he will work as a stakeholder in consultation with the Supreme Court and high courts to fast-track the recruitment of judges.
“As a Law Minister, I will not be a post office simpliciter. The Law Minister and the Law Ministry has a role as a stakeholder, obviously giving due regard and respect to the Collegium system. But as Law Minister, neither I nor my department will remain a post office. ” Prasad said.