Triple talaq Bill stalled as Rajya Sabha adjourned till January 2

The last day of 2018 provided some inkling to the name-calling that politicians are likely to indulge in against each other in the New Year.

The Lok Sabha (LS) passed the Indian the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill to allow a panel of eminent professionals to run the scam-tainted Medical Council of India. The Bill seeks to replace an Ordinance issued in this regard in September this year. The LS also approved additional gross expenditure of Rs 85,948.86 crore during the current fiscal ending March 2019.

The Rajya Sabha (RS) could not take up the triple talaq Bill because of continuous disruptions by the members of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

The Opposition demanded the Bill be referred to a select committee of the House for scrutiny. Government ministers accused the Opposition of playing vote bank politics and delaying the passage of the Bill. The Congress and other Opposition parties oppose the Bill criminalising instant triple talaq when the Supreme Court (SC) has already invalidated the practice.

The AIADMK also signed the Opposition resolution that sought that it be referred to a select committee. The Janata Dal (United), an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), conveyed that it would not support the Bill.

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the AIADMK was working at the behest of the government. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel said the Tamil Nadu party was dancing to the tunes of the Opposition.

The House adjourned without initiating a discussion on the Bill. Parliament will not function on Tuesday, on account of it being the New Year’s Day.

The Congress and the BJP also continued to trade charges on the AgustaWestland issue. BJP chief Amit Shah on Monday said the “friendship” between Christian Michel, the alleged intermediary in the AgustaWestland deal, and the Congress’ top leadership is “time-tested and deep”. In a series of tweets, Shah also asked if Michel wanted details of his questioning by investigators to be passed on to “Mrs Gandhi”. The BJP has asked its leadership to launch a nationwide campaign on the issue.

For the Congress, former defence minister A K Antony accused the BJP and the government of “manufacturing” lies in the AgustaWestland case and said Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi never interfered in any defence deals during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. Antony said the Congress-led UPA government had ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the deal and initiated proceedings to blacklist the company.

In the LS, Congress said it is ready for a debate on the Rafale jet deal on Wednesday. “Jaitley has thrown a challenge... we are ready for a debate on January 2. Please decide a time,” Congress Leader in LS Mallikarjun Kharge said.

In a Facebook post on Sohrabuddin encounter killing, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the appropriate question for party President Rahul Gandhi to ask would be who killed the investigation in this case. Responding to the comment of Gandhi on the day of the judgment that ‘nobody killed Sohrabuddin’, Jaitley said, “It would have been more appropriate if he had asked the right question, namely who killed Sohrabuddin case investigation, he would have got the right answer.” He said those who have recently shown a belated concern for institutional independence, “should seriously introspect as to what they did to the CBI when they were in power.”

Jaitley said that as Leader of Opposition in the RS, he had written a letter to the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 27, 2013, detailing the politicisation of the investigation in the Sohrabuddin, Tulsi Prajapati, Ishrat Jahan, Rajinder Rathore, and the Haren Pandya cases. “Every word of what I have said in the letter, over the next five years, has proven to be true. This is an irrefutable evidence of what the Congress did to our investigative agencies,” Jaitley said.

Earlier this month, a special CBI court acquitted all the 22 accused in the Sohrabuddin case. The court while passing its judgment also said that the CBI probed the alleged fake encounter killings of gangster Sohrabuddin Shaikh, his wife Kausar Bi, and his aide Tulsi Prajapati with a ‘preconceived and premeditated’ theory to implicate political leaders.

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