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Larger Opposition unity over referring bill to a ‘select panel'

Right at the beginning of the proceedings, Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge raised this demand while objecting to the “criminality clause” in the bill.

ET Bureau|
Dec 28, 2018, 10.03 AM IST
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Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) said: “This bill is in violation of our culture... But, sending the man to jail is wrong. Who will put food on their plate?
As the Lok Sabha took up the triple talaq bill for consideration on Thursday, the House witnessed a larger opposition unity on the issue of referring the bill to a ‘joint select committee’ of Parliament. They argued that certain provisions, especially the “criminality clause”, were “unconstitutional” and thus a “closer scrutiny” was needed. This signals that the bill, even after being cleared by the Lok Sabha, could lead to a political deadlock in the oppositiondominated Rajya Sabha.

Right at the beginning of the proceedings, Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge raised this demand while objecting to the “criminality clause” in the bill. “Is there a provision in Hindu law, or Christian law, where a man can be sent to jail for three years for giving divorce? This is a very important bill which needs detailed study. It is also a constitutional matter. I request that the bill be sent to a joint select committee,” said Kharge.

The formal debate was preceded by RSP member NK Premachandran moving a statutory resolution against the bill. “The bill is bad in law as it seeks to criminalise a ‘civil wrong’ and hence it should be referred to a select committee,” he said.

Opening the debate, Congress MP Sushmita Dev said: “The real purpose of the bill is not to empower Muslim women, but to penalise Muslim men.” She argued ciminalisation of triple talaq “goes against the SC verdict”. “In the name of empowerment, you (the government) have given nothing but a criminal case to women,” she said. She asked whether the law minister would allow “a Gujarati Hindu woman” complaining of illegal divorce to seek jail term for husband. Maintaining that the bill has provisions only for bare subsistence allowance for women victims, she said the provisions made by the Rajiv Gandhi government (in the bill following Shah Bano case) had made substantial compensation provisions.

AIADMK MP A Anwhar Raajhaa called the bill “unconstitutional and against natural justice”. Trinamool MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay, too, opposed the contentious provisions and asserted government should agree to refer the bill to the House panel. Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) said: “This bill is in violation of our culture... But, sending the man to jail is wrong. Who will put food on their plate?”

Supriya Sule (NCP) said: “Empowering women financially and emotionally will address the issue. This law is…for those women who are at the lower end of the pyramid. So, this should not be criminalised.”
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