Amid noisy scenes, members of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party and the Jammu State Morcha on Saturday walked out of the Assembly, questioning the introduction of the Permanent Residents (Women's Disqualification) Bill, which could not be passed in the Upper House in 2005.
Raising the issue during zero hour, Ashwani Kumar (JSM) asked why the government had allowed introduction of the Bill in the Legislative Council which was moved by a member of the Opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP). This was a policy of “double standards.” He was soon joined by BJP members led by Chaman Lal Gupta and NPP members led by Harsh Dev Singh.
The private member's Bill, introduced by senior PDP leader Murtaza Khan in the Upper House on March 8, will deprive women of their right to property if they marry men from outside the State. Those women would also be denied government jobs and other privileges. Interestingly, the Bill was supported by the ruling National Conference and Congress legislators during its introduction.
“The Bill is an effort to suppress the rights of women. So it should be rejected at the outset,” Mr. Kumar said. Prof. Gupta said the government was playing a trick. Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla clarified that the Congress' stand was taken by party president Sonia Gandhi. “Our stand is clear on the women's Bill. Recently, the Women's Reservation Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha and so the party's stand on the uplift of womenfolk is clear,” he said. But, this failed to convince the members BJP, the JKNPP and the JNM, who repeatedly asked why the introduction of the Bill was allowed.
Nizamuddin Bhat (PDP) countered them saying they could not discuss the Bill in the Lower House as it was introduced in the Upper House.
Mr. Harsh Dev Singh accused the government of adopting a dual approach and said the delimitation Bill was opposed by the government at the introductory stage itself.
“A Bill aimed at amending the Constitution of the State cannot be introduced in the Upper House. Every Bill has to go through the Assembly for its passage. This is happening only in this government,” said Prof. Gupta.
The charges were rejected by Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar, who said there was no violation of the Constitution as any member could introduce a private member's Bill. “The fate of the Bill will be decided after discussions and the Opposition is making a hue and cry before the measure is debated.”
A sentence at the end of the fifth paragraph of a report "Why allow women's disqualification Bill in J&K Council, asks BJP" (March 14, 2010) was "But, this failed to convince the members [of the] BJP, the JKNPP and the JNM, who repeatedly asked why the introduction of the Bill was allowed." It should have been the JSM or the Jammu State Morcha.