Three key bills on table, busy day in Rajya Sabha today.

Vishal Chauhan, 09/01/2019
Three key bills on table, busy day in Rajya Sabha today.

The Rajya Sabha members have a busy day ahead as key bills come up for passage on Wednesday, the last day of winter session. The session has been extended by a day as government scrambles to pass a constitution amendment bill to provide quota for poorer sections among general category, a bill on the Citizenship Act and one on instant triple talaq.

Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed a constitution amendment bill to introduce 10 per cent reservation for poorer sections among general category aspirants for jobs and educational institutions. Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the bill had been supported by 323 members while only 3 members voted against it.

The bill, to be taken up by the Rajya Sabha today, if passed will mean that economic status would entitle a person to reservation benefit at a national level.

The 10 per cent quota covers nearly 190 million people from the general category and is seen as an effort by the BJP-led national coalition to reach out to upper caste groups and once-dominant agrarian communities such as the Patidars, Jats, Gujjars and Marathas who have been lobbying for reservation.

The Congress, which had expressed reservations at the government pushing the bill without getting a parliamentary panel to study the law, also voted in favour of introducing the reservation.

Another bill pending with Rajya Sabha is the contentious triple talaq bill. Lok Sabha had cleared the bill in December with 245 voting in its favour and 11 against it. The Congress and other opposition parties had staged a walkout from Lok Sabha to protest against the bill.

The fresh bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on December 17 to replace an ordinance or the executive order criminalising the practice. The ordinance was issued in September after the government failed to have an earlier version of the bill passed in Rajya Sabha in December last year.

The fresh bill provides for a jail term of three years for a husband quality of pronouncing instant divorce. It supersedes the earlier bill, which sought to make instant divorce a punishable, cognisable and a non-bailable offence.

The government has brought some amendments, including the introduction of a bail provision, to make the bill more acceptable amid opposition to the bill. Opposition parties have suggested the bill be sent to a joint select committee for further review.

Citizenship bill passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday is also on Rajya Sabha table today. The bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Home minister Rajnath Singh tabled the Citizenship Bill in the Lower House and said that the Bill is not only for Assam or for migrants from a particular country.

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) had on Monday withdrew its support to the ruling BJP in Assam over differences regarding the Bill.

“I want to clarify that Citizenship Amendment Bill is not for Assam alone, this Bill is also for migrants who have come from the western borders. Assam is dealing with illegal migration for a long time now and Assam’s burden is India’s burden,” Rajnath said on Tuesday.

Opposition MPs raised slogans during the home minister’s speech in the Lok Sabha with some of BJP’s allies in the Northeast also joining in. Congress MPs walked out while the Trinamool Congress warned that Northeast will burn due to this Bill.

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