The Triple Talaq Bill, which is high on the government’s agenda, is likely to be taken up for discussion in the Lok Sabha as the winter session of Parliament resumes on Thursday after the Christmas recess. The first two weeks of the session were a near washout as the Opposition had disrupted the proceedings on various issues, including the Rafale deal.
The BJP and the Congress have issued whips to their members in the Lok Sabha asking them to be present during the discussion.
The government and the opposition last week reached an understanding to discuss The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, that seeks to replace an ordinance issued earlier for protecting the rights of married Muslim women and prohibiting divorce by pronouncing “talaq” by their husbands.
The ordinance was promulgated in September, making the practice of instant triple talaq an offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The government was keen to take up the bill for passage last week but could not do so amid protests by Congress and some other parties over various issues including the demand for a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Rafale deal.
The Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had suggested that the bill be taken up after the Christmas recess and assured the participation of his party members in the debate.
The Bill was introduced amid din in Lok Sabha on December 17 by Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
The government is keen to get its legislative agenda through as this is the last full-fledged Parliament session before the next Lok Sabha polls due in April-May 2019.
The other two ordinances, which the government is keen to replace with bills are Indian Medical Council (Amendment) ordinance and Companies Amendment ordinance.
Four bills have been passed in the Lok Sabha since the start of the present session on December 11 — the Consumer Protection Bill 2018, the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016, the Transgenders Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 and the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
The Surrogacy Bill seeks to regulate surrogacy, prohibit commercial surrogacy and allow altruistic surrogacy to the needy Indian infertile couples.
Though the Lok Sabha managed to pass four bills amid disruptions and sloganeering, no major business was transacted in the Rajya Sabha due to frequent adjournments amid uproar by opposition members.
The Congress has been pressing for the JPC probe into the decision to buy 36 ready-to-fly Rafale fighter jets deal. AIADMK members have been protesting against the proposal to construct a dam across the Cauvery river at Mekadatu and the Telugu Desam Party has been demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh.
BJP’s ally Shiv Sena also protested over the “delay” in the construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya. Both the BJP and Congress targeted each other’s leaders amid relentless sloganeering in both Houses.
The Lok Sabha witnessed two notices of privilege on the Rafale deal, one by Congress member K.C. Venugopal against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the other by BJP members including Anurag Thakur against Congress President Rahul Gandhi.
The notices were under the consideration of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. Amidst continued logjam, Mahajan last week convened a meeting of the floor leaders but the proceedings remained disrupted.
A concerned Mahajan then called a meeting of the Rules Committee and deliberated on ways to stop MPs from trooping near Speaker’s podium and holding placards in the House.
The behaviour of members forced Mahajan to reprimand them and remark that their behaviour was “worse than that of school kids”.
In the Rajya Sabha, the bills listed for passage on Thursday include The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018, The National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill, 2018, The Representation of People’s (Amendment) Bill 2018. All the four bills have already been passed by the Lok Sabha.