Rajya Sabha to take up triple talaq today, vote division likely

The Asian Age.  | Sreeparna Chakrabarty

India, All India

Govt against referring bill to select committee.

(Representational Image)

New Delhi: After hectic parleys with Opposition parties failed to elicit an assurance on smooth passage of the triple talaq bill in the Rajya Sabha, the government has decided to move the bill on Wednesday and press for it to get it passed without being referred to a select committee.

Sources said that an “adamant” government was planning to seek a division in the vote for the bill to be sent to the select committee so that Opposition parties could be “exposed”.

Meanwhile, there was a division in the ranks of the Opposition too. While smaller parties want that the bill should go to the select committee, the Congress, with 57 members, and Trinamul Congress, with 12 members, will feel uncomfortable opposing the bill in the Upper House. And in such a situation, the bill is likely to be passed by the Upper House on Wednesday itself.

Sources said that though both Congress, which was represented by Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and senior leader Anand Sharma, and Trinamul Congress, represented by Derek O’ Brien, sought the select committee route for the bill in the Business Advisory Committee meeting held on Tuesday evening, they were unlikely to press for it on the floor of the House in case of a division vote.

Interestingly, when the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017, the Congress had not sought a vote for the amendments it pressed and the TMC had neither participated in the discussion nor voted. Consequently, despite many smaller parties seeking a standing committee scrutiny, the bill had a smooth sail in the Lower House.

A senior Opposition leader, who attended the BAC meeting, said that the government was adamant and the bill will be moved in the Rajya Sabha at 2 pm on Wednesday. However, a further decision might be taken at the customary meeting with the Rajya Sabha Chairman on Wednesday morning.

All smaller Opposition parties including the SP, BSP, BJD, AIADMK and DMK have opposed the bill. The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill bans triple talaq and makes it a non-bailable criminal offence with up to three years’ imprisonment as punishment. It is this penal provision which Opposition parties are against.

Congress sources said that they might seek an amendment to this clause so that it is made a bailable offence.

Parliamentary affairs minister Ananth Kumar has already asked the Congress not to press for amendments.

“We are having continuous talks with the Oppo-sition parties, including the Congress. We have told the Congress that since they have not pressed for any amendments in the Lok Sabha, they should do the same in the Rajya Sabha,” he said on Tuesday.

The bill saw a smooth passage in the Lok Sabha due to the brute majority that the BJP enjoys in the House, However, in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP and the Congress stare eyeball to eyeball with 57 members each.

The ruling side also attacked the Congress for having a “confused” stand on the matter.

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “These days a number of reforms are being brought in. The triple talaq bill is one of them. The Congress takes one step forward and then 10 steps backward. The party is confused on triple talaq. The Muslim women are happy, but I don’t know why the Congress is sad”.