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Ruckus in Lok Sabha over Rajnath’s purported Modi ‘Hindu ruler’ remark

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New Delhi: A purported comment by Home Minister Rajnath Singh that India had got “a Hindu ruler after 800 years” in Prime Minister Narendra Modi triggered turmoil in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

As the opposition and treasury benches debated over “intolerance”, the house was adjourned thrice after CPI-M leader Mohammed Salim quoted Singh as making the statement to a magazine. The minister denied it.

Salim, who initiated the discussion, cited the minister as saying that India got “a Hindu ruler after 800 years in Narendra Modi”.

The standoff could be resolved only after Salim’s comments, contested strongly by the ruling National Democratic Alliance, were expunged from the house proceedings.

The minister said he was deeply hurt by the claim.

“I have never been so much hurt in my parliamentary life. If a home minister makes such comments, he has no right to be in his post,” he said, adding that MPs and even minorities know he can’t make such remarks.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy asked Salim to withdraw the comments till their authenticity was ascertained.

Rudy said it would be difficult for members on the treasury benches to sit in the house after allegations “which are dangerous for the country”.

Biju Janata Dal’s Bhartruhari Mahtab said a member has to give prior notice before levelling allegations against another member.

Saugata Roy of the Trinamool Congress, however, said there was no denial from the minister after the magazine carried the purported comment.

Salim later said his intention was not to hurt the minister. Rudy pressed the Marxist MP to withdraw his words.

As the impasse continued, the speaker adjourned the house for an hour. When it reassembled, Rudy again asked the Communist Party of India-Marxist member to withdraw his remarks.

Salim refused. “This is also intolerance. This is ridiculous,” he said.

As the standoff persisted, Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai briefly adjourned the house.

When the house reassembled after its second adjournment, Congress member M Veerappa Moily said since both Salim and Rajnath Singh had spoken, the matter should be put to rest.

But the stalemate persisted and the house was adjourned till 3.15 p.m.

When the house met at 3.15 p.m., Salim said he would have been happy if Rajnath Singh had become the prime minister instead of Modi.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu objected to this comment and said such comments can also be made about CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

Earlier, Rajnath Singh asserted that the government did not believe or agree that there was growing intolerance in the country.

But he said the government would seek suggestions from MPs who say so.

“We would like to have suggestions on how to stop it, from members who think intolerance is growing,” he said.

Interestingly, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, before the discussion could start, urged members not to show their intolerance in the house and listen to the views of other members with patience.

Mahajan said MPs provide leadership to people and hoped the discussion will go in the right direction.

(IANS)

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Lok Sabha passes Bill that criminalises triple talaq

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was passed by a voice vote after rejecting a resolution moved by Revolutionary Socialist Party member N.K. Premachandran that the legislation is circulated for public opinion. 

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Triple talaq
Activists of various social organisations hold placards during a protest against "Triple Talaq" in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. (VOA)

New Delhi, Dec 28: The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a bill that criminalises instant divorce with three years of imprisonment for Muslim husbands after the government rejected an overwhelming demand from the Opposition to refer the legislation to a Parliamentary standing committee for detailed consideration.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was passed by a voice vote after rejecting a resolution moved by Revolutionary Socialist Party member N.K. Premachandran that the legislation is circulated for public opinion.

Various amendments moved by opposition members, including Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) and Premachandran, were negatived in divisions.

Lok Sabha cleared the Triple Talaq bill
Lok Sabha cleared the Triple Talaq bill

The government’s determination to get the Bill passed could be gauged from the fact that it was introduced in the morning and taken up for consideration in the afternoon by suspending relevant rules and then passed in the evening by sitting late beyond the scheduled close of the House.

Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who introduced the bill and later piloted it in the Lok Sabha, said history was being created today.

He said the issue was not of religion or faith but of “gender justice and gender equality” and appealed to all the parties to rise above political considerations and politics of vote bank. “Women are seeing that justice will be done to them. Let us speak in one voice that we are for gender justice and gender equity and pass the Bill unanimously,” Prasad said, winding up the discussion.

He said instances of instant triple talaq continue despite the Supreme Court ruling it as unconstitutional in August this year. The bill seeks to declare pronouncement of talaq-e-biddat (three pronouncements of talaq at one go) by Muslim husbands void and illegal in view of the Supreme Court verdict.

Prasad said while Justice Rohington Nariman and U.U. Lalit held in their judgment in August that instant divorce was unconstitutional and the government should look at bringing a law, Justice Kurian Joseph had observed that what is a sin in Islamic laws cannot be legal.

During the debate, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi accused the Congress of appeasing Muslims
During the debate, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi accused the Congress of appeasing Muslims

The Minister saw no justification in the demand for referring the Bill to a standing committee saying the affected Muslim women were crying for justice and were fully backing it. He said there was a contradiction in members wanting it to be referred to a standing committee and some arguing why it was not brought earlier.

The Bill makes the act of pronouncing talaq-e-biddat punishable offence. There is provision for subsistence allowance from the husband for the livelihood and daily supporting needs of the wife as also of the dependent children. The wife would also be entitled to the custody of minor children.

Intervening in the debate, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar said time was now ripe for the passage of the legislation in the interest of Muslim women. He recalled an instance of a British journalist interviewing the late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru after the passage of the Hindu code Bill when she asked when would the government introduce reforms in Muslim laws.

Nehru was not opposed to reforms of Muslim personal laws but merely said the time was not opportune then, Akbar said. “That time has come now.”

Though Opposition members, including from the Congress, supported the legislation, they wanted it to be referred to a parliamentary committee so that several lacunae can be removed and the provisions strengthened in favour of Muslim women. The law must ensure that subsistence allowance and maintenance to the women and the children were not stopped, they felt.

Some felt that the BJP government was in a haste to pass the Bill, not because of its concern for Muslim women but because it sees this as a first step towards bringing in a uniform civil code. They wanted the measure to be given up immediately.

During the debate, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi accused the Congress of appeasing Muslims and said there is a need for codification of Muslim personal laws in the country.

“They (Congress) always did appeasement politics for which the country has paid for 30 years and today we have this chance. If we lose this chance today we will not have another chance.,” she said.

“Codification of Islamic law is needed in this country. No one knows what is Sharia, Talaq-e-Biddat… No one knows the difference,” she added.