New Delhi: After a complete washout of the first week of the winter session of Parliament, the Lok Sabha on Monday witnessed little business although it passed the Transgender Persons Rights Bill and introduced the Triple Talaq Bill amid din.
Throughout the day, the Congress, the AIADMK and the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) members protested near the Speaker’s podium over different issues and forced three adjournments before the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016.
Soon after the House met for the day and then reassembled at noon after the first adjournment and during the post-lunch session, the Congress, the AIADMK and TDP members were on their feet.
The Congress members were demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale jet fighter deal with France while accusing the government of lying before the Supreme Court.
The AIADMK members wanted Karnataka to take back its proposal to construct a dam across the Cauvery river at Mekadatu, while the TDP members raised several issues related to special status to Andhra Pradesh.
In the noon, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, commonly known as the Triple Talaq Bill amid a ruckus and despite opposition from the Congress.
As the din continued, Prasad sought permission from the Chair to introduce the Bill.
Congress member Shashi Tharoor opposed it claiming it was targeted at a particular religion and hence unconstitutional.
“The bill was based on the ground of a specific religion and it was violation of Sections 14 and 21 of the Constitution. This is a misconceived bill,” he said.
His objections were rejected by Prasad.
“The Bill was brought in as per the direction of the Supreme Court to protect the rights of Muslim women. Several Muslim women suffered due to instant talaq.
“This bill is in the nation’s interest and constitutional. The objection is baseless,” Prasad said and then introduced the bill.
The government could not pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha during the previous monsoon session. Later it issued an ordinance on September 19 making Triple Talaq a criminal offence.
During the Zero Hour, Shiromani Akali Dal’s Prem Singh Chandu Majra raked up the High Court verdict against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that came earlier in the day while the BJP’s Ganesh Singh demanded early construction of a grand Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan urged the protesting members to go back to their seats but they did not relent. She then adjourned the House till 2 p.m.
When the House again met post-lunch, scenes were no different.
Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot sought cooperation from the opposition members and started discussion on Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2016 that provides for protection of rights of transgender persons and their welfare.
He said the Bill was important in view of the rights of the transgenders and urged the members to pass it.
The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in August 2016 and as per the demands of the members, the Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment.
Gehlot said that as many as 27 suggestions made by the Standing Committee were accepted in the Bill.
Congress’ Shashi Tharoor, Biju Janata Dal (BJD)’s Bhartruhari Mahtab, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)’s Supriya Sule and Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s Kakoli Ghosh spoke and presented their concerns on the various clauses of the Bill including its definition. They also sought some amendments but were rejected.
During the discussion, when Kakoli Ghosh was speaking, some of the protesting members tore a piece of paper and threw it in the air.
“This is not the way,” Mahajan remarked on the behaviour of the members.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar too, objected and said the behaviour of the members was not dignified and was contempt of the proceedings.
“The government is ready to discuss every issue including Rafale,” he said.
But the opposition members did not relent and continued with sloganeering.
Amid the din the Bill was passed with voice vote.
While protesting, the Congress members were holding placards which read the “government which lies to the Supreme Court has no right to continue”.
They were countered by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who demanded an apology from Congress President Rahul Gandhi citing the apex court’s clean chit to the government in the case.
The BJP members also held up a printed placard mentioning “Congress party is a liar, Rahul Gandhi should apologise”.
As soon as the Bill was passed, Mahajan adjourned the House for the day.