Congress guilty of double standards on triple talaq Bill: Jaitley

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 08, 2018

FM wonders why party is opposing Bill in Rajya Sabha after backing it in Lok Sabha

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday attacked the Congress for its “double standards” on the issue of instant triple talaq, wondering why the principal Opposition party’s backed the legislation in the Lok Sabha but was covertly stalling it in the Rajya Sabha.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was passed in the Lok Sabha last week, with the Congress supporting it. Although Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, had asked for the Bill to be sent to a parliamentary Standing Committee, the party did not press for any amendments.

But in the Upper House, the demand for a perusal of the Bill by a Standing Committee has gained firmer ground with a united Opposition pressing for amendments, especially with regard to making instant triple talaq a cognisable offence. The Bill could not be taken up in the Upper House as the Winter Session of Parliament is drawing to its conclusion this Friday.

At the BJP’s weekly parliamentary party meeting, Finance Minister Jaitley said the Congress is playing a duplicitous game on triple talaq.

“The Congress is showing double standards. It is trying to stall the Bill in the Rajya Sabha after supporting it in the Lok Sabha,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar quoted Jaitley as saying. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were also present at the meeting.

The government, which does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, has to depend on the Opposition and other non-NDA parties for the passage of its Bills, unlike the Lok Sabha where it enjoys strong support.

Jaitley reportedly spoke at length about the influence of feminists, especially those affiliated to the Left parties, in the Congress’ stand on triple talaq. The Finance Minister maintained that the Left and the feminists followed a militant line on making domestic violence a non-bailable offence. He reportedly said the same group of political activists do not have an issue if Christian, Hindu and Sikh personal laws offer criminalisation of marriage laws. But they oppose criminalisation of triple talaq among Muslims, Jaitley is reported to have said.

Incidentally, the Hindu Marriage Act does not criminalise divorce. Even the provision with regard to bigamy is a non-cognisable offence, ie a wife will have to complain to the police for a husband to be charged with bigamy. In the proposed triple talaq legislation, the practice of instant divorce is a cognisable offence, which means the police do not need a complainant to register a case against the husband.

In addition to the triple talaq Bill, another crucial Bill envisaging Constitutional status for the OBC Commission will come up in the Lok Sabha again, after the opposition forced amendments in the Rajya Sabha in the last session. The BJP has showcased the Bill as proof of its commitment to empowering backward classes — the proposed commission will enjoy more powers than its existing form. Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot briefed MPs on the Bill.

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi spoke about the government’s move to do away with requirement of ‘Mahram’ (male guardian) for women, who are 45 years of age or older, going for Haj. The Congress has been targeting the government with its “disinformation campaign”, he said. Naqvi is also reported to have underlined that while the UPA was in power, the number of visas for Haj pilgrims had dropped by 25,000. But because of the negotiations Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had with the leadership in Saudi Arabia, the number of Haj visas for Indians has increased by 36,000, the minister said.

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Published on January 03, 2018
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