On Triple Talaq Bill, A Battle Of Nerves Between BJP And Congress

The BJP said it is determined to pass the Muslim Women Protection of Rights in Marriage Bill 2017 in the winter session, of which three days now remain.

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The bill proposes three-year jail with no scope for bail for practising "Triple Talaq".


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. BJP attempts to build consensus on "Triple Talaq" bill in Rajya Sabha
  2. Will be taken up in Rajya Sabha tomorrow where government is in minority
  3. Several parties favour sending the bill to a parliament panel for review
After easily clearing the Lok Sabha last week, the triple talaq bill will be brought on Wednesday to the Rajya Sabha, where four hours have been allotted for a debate and vote despite the Congress and other opposition parties making it clear that they will push for it to be sent to a parliamentary committee for review. A final decision on whether time should be allotted or sending it to a select committee will be taken on the floor of the house. The bill makes the instant triple talaq a criminal offence and proposes a three-year jail term for any Muslim man who says "talaq" thrice to divorce his wife.  

The BJP-led government is still in a minority in the Rajya Sabha and the Congress' demand also has the support of parties like the AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal, which usually help the government pass bills in the Upper House. Even the government's own allies like the Shiv Sena and TDP have asked for the bill to be sent to a select committee. Sources in Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress said the party will oppose the bill in the Rajya Sabha; it did not do so in the Lok Sabha because it knew the bill would be passed anyway given the government's superior numbers in that house, the sources said.

The BJP said it is determined to pass the Muslim Women Protection of Rights in Marriage Bill 2017 in the winter session, of which three days now remain. The party wants a debate and vote it is unlikely to win in the Rajya Sabha "to expose the Congress before the bill is sent to a select committee," said a top leader of the party adding, "We want the bill to be passed without going to a select committee." 

The bill sailed through last week in the Lok Sabha, where the government has a clear majority. There were only muted protests from opposition parties which put their reservations on record but did not really push for amendments, aware that the BJP had the numbers to overrule them. 

The ruling party has been hoping that projecting the bill as an instrument that restores the dignity of Muslim women will discourage parties such as the Congress from raising a full-throated objection in the Rajya Sabha too.

Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi attacked the Congress this morning for what he called its "confused" stand. "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 back. The party is confused on Triple Talaq," the Minority Affairs Minister said, adding, "Muslim women are happy, but I don't know why the Congress is sad."

The Congress party, which had repeatedly urged the government to refer the bill to a standing committee for review before passing the bill in the Lok Sabha, has been careful to underline that it strongly backs any move to abolish the "Triple Talaq", but wants provisions to be strengthened to effectively safeguard the interests of women.

The Congress and other parties have opposed the provision for a three-year jail term in the bill for a Muslim man who says "talaq" thrice to divorce his wife; they argue that if a man who abandons his family goes to jail, he will not be able to provide for them. There are also concerns that if the law is passed, it would give anyone the right to complain to the police about the "Triple Talaq" to register a case and arrest the man.

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