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The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha last week was introduced in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday amid Opposition protests

With just two days left for the conclusion of the winter session of Parliament, the fate of the Centre’s controversial Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill that seeks to make instant triple talaq a non-bailable offence punishable with a three year jail term now hangs in balance.

The Bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha last week through a voice vote was introduced in the Rajya Sabha for consideration and passing by Union minister for Law and Justice on Wednesday. However, protests by Opposition members led by the Congress party, which demanded that the Bill be referred to a Parliamentary Select Committee for further discussions, forced Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien to adjourn the House proceedings till Thursday morning.

It now remains to be seen whether, with just two sittings of Parliament’s winter session left, the Rajya Sabha will be able to discuss and pass the contentious draft legislation or whether it would, as per the demand of the Opposition, be sent for consideration of a select committee, thereby stalling its enactment for at least another three months.

That the passage of the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, where the Centre is in a minority, will be no easy task had been clear even before the draft legislation was passed by the Lower House of Parliament. Opposition parties like the Congress, Samajwadi Party, Biju Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress, AIADMK and DMK, which had failed to put up any resistance to the Bill’s passage in the Lok Sabha, knowing well that it would be rendered ineffective owing to the Centre’s brute majority in the Lower House, had closed in ranks to stall the draft legislation’s passage in the Rajya Sabha.

On Wednesday, a day which had already seen much uproar in both Houses of Parliament owing to the caste violence in Maharashtra in the backdrop of the anti-Dalit atrocities in Pune districts Bhima Koregaon, the Opposition struck with all its might against the Centre. Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s assertion that the Opposition was raking up the issue of Dalit protests only to stall the passage of the anti-triple talaq legislation only made matters worse.

Soon after Prasad rose in the Rajya Sabha to introduce the Bill, Congress leader Anand Sharma got up to move a resolution seeking to refer the draft legislation to a select committee of Parliament. Sharma’s move – supported by SP’s Naresh Agarwal and Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien – elicited a sharp response from Leader of the House and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who along with other MPs from the Treasury Benches, slammed the Congress for “violating parliamentary norms.

Jaitley argued that the Congress had not given prior notice about its resolution for referring the Bill to a select committee and that the motion moved by Sharma should, thus, not be entertained by the Chair. The submission by the Leader of the House immediately triggered a slanging match between BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani and others members and the combined Opposition brigade of Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Kapil Sibal, Trinamool’s Derek O’Brien, SP’s Naresh Agarwal to name a few.

As it became clear that the Opposition was in no mood to relent and decibels touched a deafening high, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman Kurien was forced to adjourn the proceedings till 11 am on Thursday.

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