February 13, 2019
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, two Bills which have generated much heat inside and outside Parliament and have cleared Lok Sabha, will lapse if Rajya Sabha does not pass them Wednesday, the last day of the Budget session.
The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Performance Audit on “Capital Acquisition in Indian Air Force”, is also listed for tabling in Rajya Sabha Wednesday. The report is expected to have the CAG’s findings on the Rafale deal over which the Congress and other Opposition parties have locked horns with the BJP-led government.
Opposition parties have protested the listing of the citizenship Bill without consultation, but government sources cited a 2016 decision of the Business Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha when three hours were allocated for a discussion on the Bill. Even if it is taken up and not passed, it will not survive the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha in which it was introduced.
The provision regarding lapse of a Bill in the Rajya Sabha Legislative Procedure states: “A Bill pending in Rajya Sabha which has not been passed by Lok Sabha does not lapse on the dissolution of Lok Sabha but a Bill which is passed by Lok Sabha and is pending in Rajya Sabha lapses on the dissolution of Lok Sabha.”
Both the citizenship Bill and triple talaq Bill were introduced in Lok Sabha, passed there and transmitted to Rajya Sabha. Once a new Lok Sabha is elected, both Bills will have to clear Lok Sabha again.
Assam and other states of the North-East have been roiled by protests over the citizenship Bill which seeks to relax Indian citizenship eligibility rules for immigrants belonging to six minority religions — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan.
On Monday, Tej Hazarika, son of celebrated singer Bhupen Hazarika who was conferred the Bharat Ratna posthumously this Republic Day, put the government on notice, saying the “painfully unpopular” Bill was “actually undermining” his father’s “documented position” and was “in direct opposition” to what he “believed in his heart of hearts”.
“How the Center moves on this matter far outweighs in importance the awarding and receiving of such national recognition — a display of short lived cheap thrills,” Tej Hazarika said.
NDA partner JD(U), on the eve of the Budget session, sent a delegation to Assam and said all its six MPs in Rajya Sabha would vote against the Bill. The Shiv Sena too made its opposition to the Bill clear following an “appeal” by AGP which walked out of the Assam government over the issue. The NPP, which heads the Meghalaya government, too has threatened to walk out of the NDA on the issue.
While an ordinance is currently in force outlawing triple talaq — the government has the option of repromulgation if the Bill is not passed this session — the Congress has already said it would scrap the Bill if it is voted to power.