New Delhi: In a big setback to Indian Muslim women, the controversial triple talaq bill that seeks to criminalise instant talaq with a provision of stringent punishment for the accused husband, could not be tabled in Rajya Sabha, which was adjourned sine die on Friday.
With the bill stuck in Rajya Sabha, the government has no option but to introduce it during the budget session that begins on January 29.
In view of strong resistance to the bill by Congress-led Opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha, where the Narendra Modi-led government lacks numbers, the Centre may take the ordinance route on the bill.
However, the chances of it are grim as the government is keen on getting the bill passed with a voice vote in the Rajya Sabha.
IANS quoted highly placed government sources as saying that the possibility of an ordinance on the bill is unlikely.
The bill, already cleared by the Lok Sabha, could not be passed in the upper house due to a deadlock over Opposition's demand to send it to the Select Committee for close scrutiny.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, however, expressed hope that Congress and other opposition parties would agree on passing the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights in Marriage) Bill, 2017.
The legislation proposes to criminalise instant triple talaq and suggests up to three years in jail as punishment for a Muslim husband who divorces his wife by uttering "talaq" thrice.
Asked about a possibility of bringing in an ordinance till the bill cleared, Ananth Kumar parried a direct reply and said, "The dates for the budget session have already been announced.
"We hope the Congress will understand the public opinion on the issue, reconsider their stand and pass it in the budget session. There is anger among people on this issue."
The minister slammed the Congress for stalling the bill. He said they were against the empowerment of Muslim women in India.
"This winter session was very successful. People were saying that this winter session would be a `washout` but instead, their prediction proved to be a huge `washout`. Although, the triple talaq bill was expected to be passed in the Rajya Sabha, but the Opposition, especially the Congress party, gave several excuses to put a stop to it," he added.
He added that a total of 22 bills were passed in both - the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha - during the 13 working days of the winter session.
"Total productivity in Lok Sabha was 91 percent, more than any other winter session, while 56.29 percent in the Rajya Sabha.
He said the government was committed to passing the legislation, also opposed by various Muslim groups.
"The intention of the (Narendra) Modi government is clear. We want equality and respect for the Muslim women, and the Congress is opposing it. They have just shown their double standard.
The Congress hit back, saying BJP was responsible for the "impasse in Rajya Sabha" due to which triple talaq bill could not be discussed while alleging that the ruling party wanted to treat the Parliament as a "rubber stamp".
"They (BJP) are squarely responsible for this impasse in Rajya Sabha. For the first time, the Union Ministers and the MPs were seen standing in Rajya Sabha and stalling the House," Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.
(With Agency inputs)