The Rajya Sabha on Monday was adjourned till Wednesday following an uproar over the contentious Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, with the Opposition demanding that the bill be sent to a select committee of the Upper House before being passed. The bill was expected to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha later in the day.
Earlier in the day, the House was adjourned till 2 pm soon after the proceedings began amid protests by members of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam over the Cauvery matter.
After the House reconvened at 2 pm, Opposition legislators continued to debate. “All Opposition parties unanimously have decided that this bill must be sent to the select committee,” Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien told the House.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the triple talaq bill is an important bill which can “positively or negatively affect the lives of crores of people”, and so it has to be referred to a joint select committee.
The triple talaq bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on December 27 after the Congress and the AIADMK members walked out. The triple talaq bill criminalises the practice of Muslim men divorcing their wives by uttering “talaq” three times in spoken or written forms, or via electronic communication.
The Trinamool Congress moved a motion in the Upper House on Monday seeking that the bill be sent to a select committee. A meeting of Opposition MPs in Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad’s chamber also began on Monday morning, ANI reported.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party may find it more difficult to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha, where it does not have a majority. Both the BJP and the Congress have issued whips to their MPs to be present in the Upper House on Monday.
The Congress has said in the past that it wants the bill to be referred to a joint select committee for detailed examination. The government has rejected this demand. Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal told reporters on Saturday that his party would join others in preventing the passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai on Sunday said that the government should not interfere in religious practices, The Times of India reported. “It is our party’s stand to protect the rights of the minorities,” the AIADMK leader said. “Hence, we will stoutly oppose the bill that will harm our Muslim brothers.” The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam is also expected to oppose the bill.
The Lok Sabha was adjourned till 11 am on Wednesday after a day of disruptions by Opposition protests, PTI reported. MPs from the Congress, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Telugu Desam Party rushed into the well of the House as soon as it commenced at 11 am and shouted slogans.
The Congress demanded a joint parliamentary committee investigation into the Rafale deal. The AIADMK protested against the construction of a dam over the Cauvery river, and Telugu Desam Party legislators called for special status for Andhra Pradesh. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House till noon following the commotion.
However, six questions were asked during Question Hour, which lasted for 50 minutes. During the Zero Hour, Congress members trooped into the Well with placards and shouting slogans against the government’s jet deal.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded a joint investigation into the deal and said the party was ready for a debate on the matter, requesting Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to organise it on January 2, The Hindu reported. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said such a discussion would make it clear that the Congress was “spreading lies over the deal”. The government is prepared to respond to the Opposition party’s accusations, he added.
At the end of the day, the Lower House passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The legislation aims to supersede the Medical Council of India and hand over its responsibilities to a Board of Governors.
Members also discussed the Supplementary Demands for Grants, reported The Indian Express. Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy said the economy was in poor shape, with the agriculture sector being the worst affected.
“I propose an independent fiscal count to calculate the actual GDP deficit,” Roy said. “It’s the failure of the Finance Ministry to revive banking sector. Total non-performing assets in 2014 was Rs 2,51,000 crore and in 2018 it has gone to Rs 9,62,000 crore.” Responding to Roy, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the Reserve Bank of India’s asset quality review revealed that the NPA in 2014 was Rs eight lakh crore.