NEW DELHI: The stage is set for a noisy showdown in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday over the Bill to criminalise instant talaq, with the Modi government unwilling to refer it to a parliamentary committee and daring the Opposition to oppose the legislation on the floor of the House.
The government is set to move the bill, with official sources saying the legislation, passed by the Lok Sabha, could be put to a vote over disagreement relating to the clause providing for a three-year jail term for Muslim men who violate the Supreme Court order banning instant divorce.
“Even if it is to go to a committee, let there be a vote,” said a senior minister. Opposition leaders claimed BJP is isolated and they plan to move a resolution seeking the legislation be sent to a select committee, though it is up to the chair to accept such a move.
“NDA will not be able to cross much more than 80 votes and some BJP allies like TDP and AIADMK are not keen on the legislation,” said a leader.
PM Narendra Modi is understood to be against any climbdown on the bill that also provides for maintenance for victims of triple talaq and custody of children. The view in government is that the opposition could propose and put amendments to vote if it was confident of their passage.
“The law can be improved and altered with passage of time. But sending it to a standing committee will be committing the same mistake that the Rajiv Gandhi government made when it retreated in the Shah Bano case that involved the provision of maintenance to divorced Muslim women,” said a minister.
Left and regional parties like Samajwadi Party have declared their opposition to the bill and the focus is on Congress, which seems likely to go with the rest of the opposition. The main opposition has opposed criminalisation of instant divorce but did not press the point much in the Lok Sabha. In a game of who blinks first, BJP is holding out, daring the opposition to vote down the bill.
The party calculates that despite numbers being tilted against the legislation — opposition sources claimed they could count on around 150 — political parties may be reluctant to press their dissent to a vote.
The standoff between the government and others was witnessed at the meeting of the business advisory committee of the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday evening when both sides refused to relent from their stated positions on what was to be done with the bill on Wednesday.
BJP members point to concerns in the opposition ranks that shooting down the legislation will come across as “pro-minority” or “anti-Hindu” while the law itself finds support of Muslim women. The arguments are political and intended to test the opposition’s nerve. Opposition sources said parties that have reservations over the bill include Congress, Left, TRS, SP, BSP, DMK, AIADMK, BJD and NCP.
BJP members said the criminalisation clause was intended to be a deterrent and bail should be left to the court to decide. “If this is left to police, it will lead to corruption and harassment,” said a minister.
Source : timesofindia