The fate of the bill that seeks to criminalise instant divorce by Muslim husbands remained shrouded in suspense on Tuesday as the government virtually rejected an overwhelming demand from the opposition for referring it to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha for detailed consideration and rectify "lacunae" in the controversial legislation.
A meeting of the Business Advisory Committee of the Rajya Sabha ended without a consensus on the issue as the government was keen that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 be adopted as passed last week by the Lok Sabha.
At the meeting, Leader of the House Arun Jaitley, also the Union Finance Minister, and Parliamentary Affairs Minister HN Ananth Kumar were believed to have told the opposition that they should not insist on amendments to the bill or to recommend its reference to a parliamentary committee.
However, the entire opposition, including those friendly to the ruling BJP like TDP and AIADMK, demanded that the bill be referred to a select committee so that "lacunae" in the legislation could be rectified.
In the BAC meeting, the Congress and other opposition parties put up the proposal to send the bill to a select committee, sources privy to the discussion told IANS.
The government insisted on bringing the bill to the House and take its sense before deciding about its final fate.
The sources said the ministers were learnt to have told the opposition members that the bill cannot be sent to a select committee on the basis of views expressed in the BAC and if they want to do so, they can defeat it on the floor of the House.
The sources said there was a view in the treasury benches that most opposition parties in case of a division will not vote against the legislation "for gender justice".
The BAC has allotted time of four hours for a discussion on the bill on Wednesday.
However, the picture may become clear at the meeting that Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu is going to have with floor leaders on Wednesday morning.
Earlier, Ananth Kumar said the government was in talks with the Congress and other parties for ensuring smooth passage of the bill in the Upper House.
"We are in talks with the Congress and others for the triple talaq bill, and hope for a smooth passage in the Rajya Sabha. It can be taken up tomorrow (Wednesday). May be tomorrow," he told reporters outside Parliament.
He also said the Congress did not press for amendment in the Lok Sabha and should similarly ensure smooth passage of the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
The opposition parties are said to be planning for either amendments against criminalising triple talaq or referring the bill to a select committee for detailed consideration.
CPI leader D Raja said the Left wants the bill to be referred to a select committee and accused the government of "bypassing" parliamentary panels on crucial bills.
"As far as Left parties are concerned, we want this bill to be referred to a select committee. But the BJP-led NDA government is bypassing the committee system," he said.
"They are saying 'don't send bills to the standing committee for closer scrutiny'. When it comes to the Rajya Sabha, we will demand that it should be sent to a select committee," he said.