New Delhi : The government failed to get the triple talaq bill passed in the Rajya Sabha during the winter session that concluded on Friday, pushing the controversial legislation to the budget session that begins on January 29.
Government sources ruled out any possibility of an ordinance on triple talaq as the dates for the budget session were already announced.
At the customary press briefing on the concluding day of the winter session, Parliamentary Affairs Minister H.N. Ananth Kumar said he hoped the Congress and other opposition parties would agree on passing the bill the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017.
“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,” Ananth Kumar said.
The minister slammed the Congress for stalling the bill, accusing its leaders of being against the empowerment of Muslim women in India.
“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,” he said.
The Lok Sabha passed the bill on December 28, the day it was moved in the House. It was brought to the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday amid a din by the opposition.
The opposition in the Rajya Sabha, where it has more numbers than the government, insisted on referring the legislation to a Select Committee and sought voting over the issue.
The government categorically rejected the demand, just as it had done in the Lok Sabha, which led to high drama in the Upper House on two consecutive days with treasury members forcing an unusual adjournment on Wednesday to avoid voting. The deadlock in the House didn’t let the discussion over the bill resume on Thursday.
On Friday, too, the bill found a mention in the list of business for the day, but the House was adjourned sine die immediately after Question Hour.
The bill seeks to make instant triple talaq a non-bailable criminal offence with imprisonment up to three years and/or fine for the husband who pronounces it. The opposition demanded reconsideration of the penal provision. They also objected to the provisions of the bill that turn a civil matter into a criminal one. But the government said it was non-negotiable.
One of the criticisms on the legislation by the opposition is that the Narendra Modi government unilaterally drafted the legislation without any consultations with the opposition or other stakeholders.
In the Lok Sabha, where the government has overwhelming majority, it got the bill passed the same day it was moved, ignoring demand from the opposition to refer the bill to a Parliamentary Standing Committee for detailed consideration.
Meanwhile, various Muslim organisations including the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) have been meeting leaders of different opposition political parties, asking them to not let the bill pass in its present form.