Several Opposition members protested when the Narendra Modi government introduced a fresh triple talaq bill in the Lok Sabha on Friday. They said it was legally untenable as it turns a civil offence into a crime, by prescribing a jail term for a man divorcing his wife using this method.
The Bill will pass muster in the Lok Sabha given the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) numbers there, but could face obstacles in the Rajya Sabha despite four Telugu Desam Party (TDP) members joining the BJP on Thursday.
Opposition sources pointed out that since parties such as Janata Dal (United), a BJP ally, and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) are opposed to the Bill, its passage would be difficult in the Rajya Sabha.
According to calculations by opposition floor leaders, at least 108 Opposition members are opposed to the Bill, while the JD(U), the TRS and YSR Congress Party have also expressed reservations. The number, if all these parties were to vote against the Bill, comes to 122 in a 245-member House.
The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill 2019 became the first legislation to be tabled in Parliament by the Modi government in its second term. It was introduced following a division of votes, with 186 members supporting and 74 opposing it.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said 543 cases of triple talaq were reported in the country. After the Supreme Court judgement banning the practice, Prasad said more than 200 cases were reported.
Shashi Tharoor of the Congress said he was opposed to triple talaq (instant divorce) but was against this bill, as it conflates civil and criminal laws. Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM took a dig at the BJP, saying it has so much affection for Muslim women but is opposed to the rights of Hindu women to enter Sabarimala Temple in Kerala.
With the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month, the previous bill had lapsed as it was pending for introduction in the Rajya Sabha. The government had promulgated the ordinance on triple talaq twice -- in September 2018 and in February 2019 -- as the contentious bill remained pending in the Rajya Sabha, though it was passed by the Lok Sabha.
The Lok Sabha saw continued tension between the Trinamool Congress and BJP. Trinamool’s Saugata Roy said the West Bengal government will continue to boycott meetings called by the Centre till the Union Home Ministry stops sending advisories to the state under Article 355. In a related development, the BJP is sending a three-member team to Bengal's Bhatpara region, which has seen violence in recent days.
The government also introduced the Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill to extend the period for reconstitution of the Homeopathy Central Council from the existing period of one year to two years.
The Rajya Sabha could see a short duration discussion on 'electoral reforms for free and fair elections' after 12 opposition parties demanded it. The chair has accepted the notice, and the discussion could take place after the House completes the Budget discussion.