Women’s reservation bill listed for introduction In Lok Sabha

Women’s reservation bill listed for introduction In Lok Sabha

On the second day of the Parliament Session that began on September 19 in the new building, the Women’s Reservation Bill was finally listed for introduction in Lok Sabha after nearly three decades of waiting for clearance. Speaker Om Birla announced that the bill was being introduced in the House on that day, and the discussion on the bill would take place on September 20.

The Union cabinet, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, had approved the constitutional amendment for this bill. Modi referred to the bill as an “agni pareeksha” (litmus test) for members of Parliament.

govt lists women’s reservation bill for introduction in lok sabha ...

While the Congress and BJP have consistently supported the Women’s Reservation Bill, there has been opposition from various other political parties. Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Congress Party, expressed her support for the bill, stating, “It is ours. Woh hamara bill hai (It is our bill),” shortly after the Union Cabinet’s decision to introduce the bill.

The Women’s Reservation Bill aims to reserve a certain percentage of seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women, with the goal of promoting gender equality and increasing women’s participation in India’s political processes. Its introduction in the Lok Sabha marks a significant step forward in the legislative process for this long-pending bill.

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The legislative history of the Women’s Reservation Bill dates back to September 1996 when it was first introduced in Parliament during H. D. Deve Gowda’s tenure as Prime Minister. Subsequently, various governments made attempts to pass the bill, but it faced consistent challenges due to a lack of political consensus.

In 2010, the bill managed to clear the Rajya Sabha amidst disruptions and protests. However, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at that time chose not to push the bill in the Lok Sabha. This decision was influenced by demands from its allies, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party, who were advocating for reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes within the quota for women.

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The proposed legislation mandates the reservation of seats for women in the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. Specifically:

1. Seats for Women: A portion of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi shall be reserved for women.

2. Reservation for Scheduled Castes: One-third of the seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes in the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi shall also be reserved for women.

3. Overall Women’s Reservation: One-third of the total number of seats filled by direct election in the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, including seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes, shall be reserved for women. The specific manner of implementing this provision will be determined by Parliament through legislation.

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In addition to the provisions related to Delhi, the bill also stipulates that seats shall be reserved for women in the Legislative Assembly of every state in India.

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Importantly, the bill asserts that if it becomes law, it is not expected to incur any expenditure, whether recurring or non-recurring, from the Consolidated Fund of India. This suggests that the implementation of women’s reservation in legislative assemblies will not impose a financial burden on the government.

Implementing the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Rajya Sabha posed a significant challenge due to the existing electoral system, which employs the single transferable vote method. This system assigns votes based on individual candidate preferences, making it intricate to reserve seats for specific groups. It’s worth noting that the Rajya Sabha does not currently have reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs), and any attempt to introduce such reservations would necessitate a constitutional amendment to modify the voting system.

As of December 2022, data reveals that the representation of women Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha is less than 15 percent, and in many state assemblies, it falls below 10 percent. Several state assemblies, including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, and Puducherry, have less than 10 percent women representation. Meanwhile, states like Bihar, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi have 10-12 percent women Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

These statistics highlight the need for greater gender diversity and representation in Indian legislative bodies and underscore the significance of initiatives like the Women’s Reservation Bill to address this disparity.

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