Opposition parties will get their chance besiege the government on the controversial Triple Talaq bill for four hours today as part of a discussion in Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament where the opposition parties enjoy a majority.
The government has agreed for a debate on the issue from 5 PM to 9 PM.
It has already got The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Bill passed in Lok Sabha, where it has an absolute majority.
The Indian National Congress, which had supported the bill in the Lok Sabha or people’s house, has asked for several amendments and the setting up of a select committee to study the bill in Rajya Sabha.
Sending the bill to a committee will delay its implementation by several months.
The Congress Party has given a list of 17 Rajya Sabha MPs to the chairman for the formation of a select committee.
These include Renuka Chowdhury, K Rahman Khan, Derek O Brien, Javed Ahmad, Majeed Memon, KK Ragesh and D Raja.
Given the paucity of numbers in the Rajya Sabha, the government has few options but to send the bill to a special committee.
The bill aims to restore some of the privileges of Muslim women that were taken away by the controversial Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act passed by the Congress government in 1986.
Despite the name, the 1986 Act was intended to give relief to Muslim men from having to pay maintenance to their divorced wives. The Act shifted the responsibility of paying maintenance from the husband to the woman’s own relatives.
It is alleged that the law led to the practice of many Muslim men divorcing their wives at the drop of a hat, given that they don’t have to pay maintenance to the woman after divorce.
The new law being pushed by the current BJP-led government seeks to put an end to the situation and requires men to pay maintenance in case of divorce, where the woman has no other sources of income.
It also stipulates a prison term of up to 3 years in case a man is found to have abandoned his wife without following the proper, three-stage divorce process laid down in the Quran.
The bill by the new government has won support from many Muslim women, while generating opposition from many Muslim men.
Opposition parties believe that the primary aim of the bill is for the BJP to increase its support among Muslims by appealing to the women in the community.