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Monday, 9 April 2018

The Hindu Editorial: A Case To Withdraw The Triple Talaq Bill

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Title: A case to withdraw the triple talaq Bill 

(The Bill in its current form has many procedural and legal infirmities) 

The Prime Minister’s lament to the outgoing Rajya Sabha MPs that they missed out on an opportunity to debate important issues such as the triple talaq Bill — the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 — due to disruptions is an indication that despite widespread public opinion against it, the Centre is inordinately keen on making it a law. 

Instant talaq will constitute abuse only if it is accompanied by the forcible removal of the wife from the matrimonial home, or her abandonment. But the Bill criminalises talaq-e-biddat even if it is not followed by eviction or desertion of the wife. 

It is astonishing that those who want talaq-e-biddat, which can no longer be used to threaten a wife into submission, to be declared an act of “domestic violence” fail to realise that innocent men could be forced to undergo the aforementioned humiliating punishments reserved for cognisable and non-bailable offences. 

This unwarranted punitive deprivation of personal liberty also runs afoul of Article 19, especially clauses 19(1)d and 19(1)g which allow all citizens “to move freely throughout the territory of India” and “practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.” 

Thus, if a man is unjustifiably jailed under the proposed law even for a few weeks, he will be denied of these rights for that period. 

Title: Broken Houses 

(The Budget session shamed democracy; the damage can be undone with a new session) 

The session began on January 29, the Union Budget was presented on February 1, and the first part concluded on February 9. In the second part of the session, starting March 5, the productivity of both Houses was less than 10%. 

Against a long list of pending Bills, just one was passed by both Houses, the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill 2017. 

That was it for the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha passed three other bills related to the Budget: the Finance Bill 2018 and two Appropriation Bills. These are money bills that do not need the Rajya Sabha’s nod, and with the National Democratic Alliance’s numbers in the Lok Sabha, their passage was never going to be in doubt. 

But it must be an occasion of shame that the Budget was passed in the Lower House without any debate whatsoever. Other numbers deepen the reading of the crisis: both Houses lost more than 120 hours each to disruptions; and the Rajya Sabha took up just five out of 419 listed starred questions (that is, questions that Ministers answer orally, with MPs allowed to ask supplementary questions). 

However, the crisis is defined by more than numbers; it is the quality of interaction that is damaging India’s democracy. The Lok Sabha Speaker, most glaringly, failed to use the powers at her command to suspend unruly MPs so that a notice for a no-confidence motion could be considered. 

A special session before the monsoon session to finish pending business has been mooted. Although this is bound to raise the question why Parliament was held to ransom if the Opposition had indeed wanted it to function, it is an idea worth considering seriously by all parties. 

Title: Inclusion and the right to dignity 

(The onus of battling discrimination must not fall on the shoulders of Dalits alone) 

On the morning of April 3, the front pages of newspapers told us of violent protests by Dalits in northern India the day before. 

We need to go beyond headlines and ask why a vulnerable community took to the streets. 

Think of its desperation, how it has lost confidence in the ability of Indian democracy and now the judiciary to give it justice, how the promises of the Constitution have been blatantly and vulgarly betrayed. 

How it has been subjected to repeated indignities, reiterated insults and bodily harm by citizens of this great Republic. Worse, its own leaders have let it down. 

In January 2016 the death of Rohith Vemula, in July 2016 the public attacks on Dalits in Una, and earlier this year attacks on celebrations of the historic Bhima-Koregaon battle in Maharashtra showed up in great detail the flaws of our body politic. How many more indignities does the community have to suffer? 

Today, Dalits write their own histories and biographies. A vibrant literary movement denounces the ostracism of an entire community from mainstream society, and chronicles the nerve-racking experience of being treated as an outcaste. 

Yet caste-based discrimination persists in significant areas of social interaction. In short, the one vital good that the justice project tries to secure — respect/self-respect — continues to elude attempts at repair of historical injustice. 

Unrealised justice project 

The impact of disrespect upon the Dalit community cannot be underestimated. Disrespect reinforces other injustices confronted by the community in everyday life. 

Indians have failed to secure justice for their own fellow citizens. It is time to express solidarity. Constitutional and legislative provisions and Supreme Court judgments are important, but they are simply not enough. If the right to justice is violated, citizens should be exercised and agitated about this violation. 

One of the most essential goods human beings are entitled to, the right to dignity, has not been realised. For this right to be recognised, social movements that speak the language of equality for their own particular constituencies have to come together and support the idea of building a political consensus on what is due to all human beings. 

Vocabulary words: 

Treasury (noun) = The funds or revenue of a state (राज्य-कोष) 

Unscathed (adj) = Uninjured, undamaged (अक्षत) 

Forge (verb) = Create, build (बनाना) 

Glaringly (adv) = In a highly conspicuous manner (सुस्पष्टतया) 

Muster (verb) = Collect, assemble, inspection (मुआयना) 

Conviction (noun) = Sentence (दोषसिद्धि) 

Dock (verb) = Diminish, mitigate (घटाना) 

Onus (noun) = Something that is one’s duty or responsibility (कर्तव्य) 

Innumerable (adj) = Too many to be counted, countless (असंख्य) 

Arson (noun) = The criminal act of deliberating setting fire to property 

Reiterate (verb) = Repeat, retell (बार बार दुहराना) 

Agonise (verb) = Worry, upset oneself (तड़पना या तड़पाना) 

Lament (noun) = Express grief or sorrow (शोक) 

Defy (verb) = Openly resist or refuse to obey (उपेक्षा करना) 

Arbitrary (adj) = One’s own mind, self-willed (मनमाना) 

Erroneous (adj) = Wrong, incorrect 

Untenable (adj) = Indefensible, invalid (अस्थिर, असमर्थनीय) 

Eviction (noun) = The action of expelling someone from a property 

Prima facie (adj & adv) = Based on the first impression 

Aggrieved (adj) = Oppressed (पीड़ित)


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