The Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till Wednesday amid uproar by Opposition over the passage of the Triple Talaq Bill, which makes the practice of instant divorce among Muslims a criminal offence with a provision of three-year jail term for the erring husband.
Speaking at the Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad said;" This is such an important bill which can positively or negatively affect the lives of crores of people can't be passed just like this without going to a select committee."
Congress leader Anand Sharma said even if the Lok Sabha has passed the triple talaq bill, the Rajya Sabha is not a rubber stamp.
Meanwhile, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked Congress to not delay the passage of the Bill unnecessarily.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said the government was ready for a discussion on the issue and accused the Congress of creating hurdles in the passage of the legislation. He said the Congress has already supported the bill in the Lok Sabha earlier.
"The Congress and other parties are only playing politics on this issue which is very important for ensuring the rightsof married Muslim women," he said.
Ahead of its passage, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that the party has made its stand clear. However, he refused to comment further.
Earlier in the day, the Opposition parties on Monday held a meeting and decided to demand that the bill be referred to the select committee for further deliberations.
The meeting, chaired by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad in his parliament house chamber, was attended among others by leaders of 12 opposition parties including Samajwadi Party's Ram Gopal Yadav, TMC's Derek O'Brien, CPI's D. Raja and Kerala Congress' Jose K. Mani.
Sources present in the meeting said that most of the parties present in the meeting were of the view that the bill needs to be sent to the select committee.
DMK leader and Rajya Sabha member, K. Kanimozhi said her party had been consistent in its position against "criminalisation" of triple talaq.
"We are opposing jail punishment for pronouncing talaq. Even the Islamic tenets do not allow instant triple talaq. We will vote against the bill and it is the stand of the DMK that it (bill) be referred to a select committee," she told reporters.
TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu made an appeal to all his MPs to obstruct the harassment of Muslims.
"All Opposition parties should fight unitedly against the anti-Muslim attitude of BJP. The government forcibly imposing triple talaq bill is a danger for secularism and national integrity," he said.
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The bill was passed in Lok Sabha with the support of 245 votes against 11 on Thursday.
The case dates back to 2016 when the Supreme Court had sought assistance from the then Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on pleas challenging the constitutional validity of “triple talaq”, “nikah halala” and “polygamy”, to assess whether Muslim women face gender discrimination in cases of divorce.
Opposing the practice of triple talaq, the Centre told the top court that there is a need to re-look at these practices on grounds of gender equality and secularism. The Supreme Court later announced the setting up of a five-judge constitutional bench to hear and deliberate on the challenges against the practice of ‘triple talaq, nikah halala’ and polygamy.
The issue gained political momentum on March 2017 when the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) told the Supreme Court that the issue of triple talaq falls outside the judiciary’s realm and that these issues should not be touched by the court.
However, on August 22 this year, the Supreme Court set aside the decade-old practice of instant triple talaq saying it was violative of Article 14 and 21 of the Indian Constitution. The bench comprising of five judges, headed by Chief Justice J. S. Khehar, had reserved its verdict on 18 May, six days after the hearing began on 11 May. The court’s ruling was restricted to the constitutional validity of triple talaq and did not include issues like polygamy and nikah halala under the Muslim personal law.
In September, the Narendra Modi government had proposed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in the Parliament and sought to make triple talaq a punishable offence under the law.