Even as the Monsoon Session of Parliament came to a close on Friday, the contentious Triple Talaq Bill which criminalises the practice of instant "talaq" could not be taken up for discussion and passage due to lack of consensus among political parties on the issue.
The Congress-led Opposition, which created ruckus in Rajya Sabha on Friday, has been demanding that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2017 be sent to a Select Committee for further scrutiny.
The BJP-led government, which does not have a majority in the Upper House, had also made efforts to get the bill cleared in the Budget Session also.
Today, when the Rajya Sabha reconvened at 2:30 PM after two adjournments in the pre-lunch session, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he has decided that the bills "on which there is some sort of broad consensus" will be taken up for discussion and passage later in the day. Naidu also clarified that the Triple Talaq Bill will not be taken up today as a consensus has not yet been evolved on the issue.
Meanwhile, BJP held Congress president Rahul Gandhi responsible for the triple talaq bill not getting the parliamentary nod in the Monsoon Session, saying his party supported it in the Lok Sabha but not in the Rajya Sabha due to its double standards.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters that Gandhi and his party are directly responsible for the stalling of the bill, which entails prison term for Muslim men charged with instant divorce.
The Lok Sabha, which passed the bill, was adjourned sine die today. Kumar termed the Monsoon Session a landmark session, saying 21 bills were passed in the House which sat for 20 hours more than the allocated time.
Seeking to allay fears that the proposed law which makes the practice of instant triple talaq illegal and imposes a jail term of up to three years on the husband could be misused, the government approved three safeguards in it such as adding a provision of bail for the accused before trial.
While the proposed law will remain "non-bailable'', the accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail. Under a non-bailable law, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself.
Another amendment makes it clear that the police would lodge FIR only if approached by the victim (wife), her blood relations or people who become her relatives by virtue of her marriage.
The third amendment makes the offence of instant triple talaq "compoundable". Now, a magistrate can use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and his wife. Under a compoundable offence, both parties have the liberty of withdrawing the case.
Giving instant triple talaq will continue to be illegal and void and will attract a jail term of three years for the husband. Even after the bill was introduced, 160 cases were reported. Provision of bail was one of the demands of the opposition parties.
The proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or 'talaq-e-biddat' and it would give power to the victim to approach a magistrate seeking "subsistence allowance" for herself and minor children. A woman can also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a final call on the issue.
The amendments came after the Supreme Court on August 22 last year had struck down 'triple talaq', calling unconstitutional.
The Lok Sabha had passed the Bill in December. However, amendments to the draft legislation, once cleared by the Rajya Sabha, will again be sent to the Lower House for passage.
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice within minutes during the pre-lunch session today amid protest by Congress members over their demand for a JPC probe into the alleged scam in the Rafale jet deal.
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