The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 also known as the Triple Talaq Bill (“the Bill”) failed to make any progress in the Rajya Sabha in the winter session of Parliament on Thursday, 4th January 2018.
The Bill seeks to outlaw talaq-e-biddat or instant triple talaq and punish offenders with up to three years in jail as punishment.
The Government placed the Bill in the bottom of priority in the list of business, to which the Opposition strongly objected. However, the Bill has now been pushed without any discussion to the Budget Session that begins on 29th January 2018.
The Bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha through a voice vote on 28th December 2017. The Bill has to be cleared by the Rajya Sabha before it is made law. However, due to a deadlock over the Opposition’s demand seeking its reference to a Select Committee for close scrutiny, the Bill failed to be cleared by the Rajya Sabha.
The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and Congress Member of Parliament, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the Bill was not fit to be passed as it as it would “finish off Muslim women” instead of “empowering them.”
Leader of the House and Finance Minister of India, Mr. Arun Jaitley questioned the validity of the Opposition’s motion, stating that the statutory requirement of 24 hours advance notice was not given. He also stated that the work of a Select Committee was to improve the Bill. Further Mr. Jaitley said “A saboteur of a Bill can never be on the Select Committee. It is a Parliamentary proceeding. As such they would be disqualified from being a part of it,”.
Deputy Chairman of the House P. J. Kurien responded that the rule raised by Mr. Jaitley that a prior notice should be given is correct but said, “The Leader of the House is a very learned advocate himself and all points raised by him are of relevance…..However, the same rule adds that the Chairman of the House (Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu) has the power to admit such a motion and which is why I cannot overrule it. It is now admitted and hence is the property of the House, only members can amend it,”.
The Rajya Sabha, which had 13 sittings during the winter session that started on 15th December 2017, saw the passage of nine Government Bills.
Only time will tell whether the rights of the Muslim women will be protected by the law.