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Triple talaq bill: War of words between BJP, Congress as deadlock continues in Rajya Sabha

Triple talaq bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017.

Triple talaq bill: War of words between BJP, Congress as deadlock continues in Rajya Sabha

New Delhi: The deadlock over the triple talaq bill continued in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday with the Opposition insisting on its reference to a Select Committee for detailed scrutiny and the government rejecting the demand.

With no agreement, the government placed the bill in the bottom of priority in the list of business, which the Opposition strongly objected to and demanded that its motions for referring the bill to a Select Committee be taken up immediately.

As Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said that the listing of business was the government's priority and decided to go ahead with a bill on GST, Opposition members created an uproar, forcing him to adjourn the House for the day.

Here's what happened in the Rajya Sabha:

Earlier, the Opposition wanted the Chair to put the motions moved by Congress leader Anand Sharma and Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Shekar Roy for reference of the legislation to a proposed Select Committee be put to vote immediately.

They contended that before the House adjourned on Wednesday, a division was to be taken and so the Rajya Sabha should pick up the thread from where it was left. After some discussion, the two sides agreed to conduct a short-duration discussion on the economy and take up the matter regarding triple talaq bill after that. 

After Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's reply to the discussion, the Opposition returned to its demand for a vote on the two motions. Jaitley raised questions over the validity of the two motions saying the statutory requirement of 24 hours advance notice was not given and that the proposed committee was not representative in character, IANS reported.

Citing earlier rulings, he said a Parliamentary panel has to represent the character of the House and be a "microcosm of the House". Jaitley, who is also Leader of the House, also said the work of a Select Committee was to improve a bill and a "saboteur" cannot be a part of the panel and as such was disqualified to be a part of it.

Intervening, Sharma said even when he had moved the resolution on Wednesday he had said in writing that the names of BJP and NDA MPs could be included in the proposed panel.  Sharma demanded that under Rule 131 an unfinished business has to be finished first.

Later, slamming the Opposition, Union Minister Smriti Irani said, "Opposition stands exposed in Rajya Sabha. For past two days repeatedly it has been said that if there are any issues that need to be spoken on the bill, those issues must be put out on the floor of the House. Why is Congress-led Opposition running away from discussion?"

She added, "I think it is a shame on them that they are trying to obstruct this path of justice for Indian Muslim women," as per ANI.

On the other hand, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, "The government is isolated, the Opposition is one. The bill should be sent to the select committee."

"Today BJP has been exposed, they don't have the guts to empower women," Trinamool Congress MP Derek O Brien said on the debate over the bill.

On January 3, 2017, too, there was a face-off between the government and the Opposition over the bill in the Rajya Sabha. Amid noisy scenes, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had introduced the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 for discussion and passage.

It now remains to be seen whether the government lists the bill for consideration on Friday - the last day of the Winter Session.

The bill, which seeks to make instant triple talaq illegal with up to three years in jail for the husband, was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 28, 2017.

(With Agency inputs)