The Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 11 am on Thursday after the Opposition vociferously protested against the government’s refusal to refer the triple talaq bill to a select committee. Congress leader Anand Sharma, who moved the motion, also proposed names of the members the committee, none of whom were from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The Opposition parties hold a majority in the Upper House.
Some of the names suggested by Sharma were Renuka Chowdhury and K Rahman Khan of the Congress, Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’ Brien, Javed Ahmad of the Samajwadi Party, Majeed Memon of the Nationalist Congress Party, and the Communist Party of India’s D Raja.
The Leader of the House, Arun Jaitley, however said that the Congress was contravening parliamentary procedure by moving the motion without submitting it 24 hours in advance. Jaitley also said that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, should not be referred to a select committee as two Supreme Court judges held the practice of instant divorce as unfair and used their extraordinary power to suspend it for six months.
The court’s deadline would expire on February 22, and thus Parliament must come up with a legislation within that period, the finance minister said. “There is an urgency that the country expects from Parliament, legislature must act with sense of responsibility,” Jaitley said. Congress leader Kapil Sibal, however, pointed out that Jaitley was quoting from the minority judgment in the Supreme Court verdict.
Earlier, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who tabled the bill, said that the Opposition was raising the issue of Dalit protests in Mumbai and Pune to stall the bill, ANI reported. “Even after the triple talaq bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, its practice continues,” Prasad claimed. “A woman in Moradabad [in Uttar Pradesh] was given triple talaq by her husband over dowry.” However, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad rejected Prasad’s charge.
On August 22, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court had struck down triple talaq, calling the Islamic practice unconstitutional and in violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which provides for equality before the law. The Lok Sabha, where the BJP holds a majority, passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 on December 28.