Even as no discussion took place in Rajya Sabha on the triple talaq Bill amid disruptions, the Opposition and the government locked horns during a meeting at Chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s chamber earlier on Monday.
The Opposition is learnt to have asked what the BJP, a self-proclaimed Hindu party, had done for Hindu women now that it wants to ostensibly empower Muslim women. The government hit back, asking why opposition parties continue to resist a Bill which was amended as per their demand.
The meeting went on for long, sources said, during which opposition parties persisted with their demand that a select committee go through the proposed legislation since the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, had not undergone legislative scrutiny in a standing committee in the Lok Sabha.
Congress deputy leader of House Anand Sharma is learnt to have questioned the government’s position that the Bill is crucial to ensure justice to Muslim women. Sources said Sharma asked what the BJP, with its claims of being a Hindu party, had done for Hindu women that it is now so keen to serve Muslim women.
During the first adjournment of 15 minutes after lunch, leaders met again in the Deputy Chairman’s chamber and urged the government to take the Bill to a select committee.
In addition to the notice given by TMC in the morning and signed by all others, in the afternoon, after the House was adjourned for the day, Opposition leaders met again in Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s room and decided to submit another notice on the demand, with Azad as the first signatory followed by the others.
During the first meeting, AAP MP Sanjay Singh, according to sources, said that it was not clear to him why the BJP is opposed to referring the Bill to a select committee, as that would serve the ruling party’s purpose of keeping the issue alive. “That, in any case, was the intention of BJP,” Singh was quoted by sources as saying.
BJP MP Bhupendra Yadav pointed out that the Bill has already been amended, and the Opposition’s demand for amendments have been met. There is thus no reason to oppose it any longer, he reportedly said.
In response, AAP’s Singh, according to sources, retorted that the Opposition’s resistance to the Bill is not just for any amendment but to amend the clause that criminalises a civil offence (instance talaq). That provision remains unchanged, and that is precisely why the Bill is meeting opposition, he reportedly said.
Sharma said that the government could not possibly expect the Rajya Sabha, the House of Elders, to act as a rubber stamp for Bills passed by Lok Sabha. The policy of the Upper House, Sharma was quoted as saying, is that every Bill should be scrutinised by some committee — either a department-related standing committee or a select committee or a joint committee.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel reportedly objected to this and said that is not always the case.
CPI’s D Raja, who was present in all meetings on the Bill on Monday, is learnt to have said that the government should concede the Opposition’s demand of sending the Bill to a select committee of Parliament, so that a legislation is made “properly”. “The intent of the government is subject,” he was quoted saying.
The Lok Sabha has passed the Bill twice — in the second Bill there is a provision that a complaint regarding instant triple talaq can be lodged only by a wronged woman, or her blood relations, or her husband’s relatives. This, the government had told the Lower House, is meant to ensure that the Bill is not misused.