Citizenship and triple talaq Bills lapse as budget session of Parliament comes to end

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Livemint, February 14, 2019

  • There was uproar in both Houses on matters that were either sub judice or had passed through courts at some point
  • NRC was prepared in accordance with the terms of the Assam Accord to wean out illegal Bangladeshi migrants
  • The budget session of Parliament drew to a close on Wednesday with two crucial Bills—the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the Triple Talaq Bill—lapsing.

    In marked contrast, the recently concluded winter session, as well as the budget session, saw an uproar in both Houses on matters that were either sub-judice or had passed through the courts at some point.

    The Supreme Court suo motu took up the challenge to publish the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam in 2018 and the issue is currently sub-judice.

    The court has set 31 July as the deadline for publishing the final NRC for Assam and has pulled up the central government, which had sought an extension in view of the violent clashes in the North-East over the matter.

    NRC was prepared in accordance with the terms of the Assam Accord to wean out illegal Bangladeshi migrants following a Supreme Court order of 2013.
    However, even as the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in January—which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to those who had been forced to seek shelter in India because of religious persecution in their home countries, primarily Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh—the Bill failed to come up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha.

    The opposition had slammed the Bill for excluding Muslims. Opposition members of Parliament went head-to-head with government lawmakers, claiming that the Bill was in contravention of the NRC.

    On the matter of the Triple Talaq Bill, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had repeatedly informed the Upper House that it was being introduced to safeguard the interests of married Muslim women who had been deserted by their husbands. The Bill lapsed on Wednesday, without coming up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha.
    By striking down the Islamic practice of triple talaq as unconstitutional in August 2017, the apex court was seen as having ushered in gender justice and upheld the rule of law.

    By a 3-2 verdict, the top court struck down the age-old practice under which a Muslim man could divorce his wife by uttering the word “talaq” thrice.

    Thereafter, the issue was taken up in Parliament which tabled the The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill.

    Despite efforts to pass the Bill in the budget session, it lapsed with the Rajya Sabha being adjourned sine die on Wednesday.

    Alongside, legislation granting 10% reservation in jobs and education for the economically weaker sections from the general category has been challenged in the Supreme Court and is pending.
    Both the Bill and the law—it has received the President’s approval—made their way into the courtroom the day after their passage.

    The main grounds of challenge is that the introduction of Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution violates the equality code of the Constitution and is in “breach of the basic structure of the Constitution”.

    It also cites precedents where a constitutional bench had specifically stated that the economic criteria cannot be the sole basis for reservations under the Constitution.

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