Did the Modi government resort to doublespeak to pass Triple Talaq Bill?

Opposition leaders point out that the Modi govt had asked the Opposition for a list of Bills to be sent to Select Committee and on that list Triple Talaq and UAPA Bills were there

Did the Modi government resort to doublespeak to pass Triple Talaq Bill?

Ashlin Mathew

A day after the passage of the Triple Talaq Bill in Rajya Sabha, the leader of the Opposition in Parliament Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the government of double speak. Azad said the Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi had met all the Opposition leaders where they were asked to list the Bills which they would want sent to a Select Committee.

“When RTI (Amendment) Bill was being discussed in Rajya Sabha, the government through the Parliamentary Affairs Minister and his colleagues approached us asking about the Bills which the Opposition would like to send to the select Committee. They gave us a list of 23 Bills, and we wanted at least half of them to be sent. The government then suggested that the Opposition should suggest the least number of Bills to be sent to Select Committees,” revealed Azad, just before the debate on cancer and the need for affordable treatment.

Azad pointed out that the entire Opposition had collectively identified six Bills in category A and two Bills in category B to be sent to Select Committees. This list was taken by the Government, added Derek O’Brien, the TMC MP in Rajya Sabha.

“The Triple Talaq Bill was the first item on the primary list and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, listed for today (Wednesday, July 31) was also mentioned in the primary category,” pointed out O’Brien.

Since we were in talks, we did not inform our MPs (to be present in the House). You tell your people to be present and we remain under the illusion that this bill is going to the select committee. This is not done...on the part of the government," added Azad.

“We were almost given to understand that the Triple Talaq Bill would be sent to the select committee because the government did not get back to the Opposition about these recommendations,” insisted Azad.

Citing Rule 29, O’Brien asked the Rajya Sabha Speaker and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu to intervene in the matter. The Opposition was able to meet the government on an intervention from Naidu on the listing of business.

“On that understanding, the government told us that they would revert to us on at least four of those Bills. There is a rule and an understanding that the government and the Opposition will talk to each other so that the government will not do any clandestine, midnight operation to catch people by surprise. There were two bills which were on top of the priority list – Triple Talaq and UAPA Bills. One got listed on Monday, 9.30 pm and the other today (July 31, 2019),” added O’Brien.

“The point is that we want to examine these Bills. Of the 23 Bill, the Opposition had a list of six Bills which they wanted examined. The government has the numbers to pass the Bills, but let us fight for the integrity of Parliament,” observed O’Brien.

Supporting the statements of both Azad and O’Brien, Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal Yadav said, “We had asked for a few Bills to be sent to the Select Committee. Let the minister state that they have no such intentions. If he changes his stance, then I have nothing to say. But, it is not right.”

On hearing the Opposition charges, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said when UPA was in power too UAPA came to Parliament, but it wasn’t sent to the select committee. While Javadekar chose to ignore the Triple Talaq Bill, he said that there is no necessity that these six Bills must go to a select committee.

On hearing these complaints, Naidu said he would discuss with Parliamentary Affairs minister and then decide.

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