WOMEN’S BILL INTRODUCED IN THE PARLIAMENT: HERE’S ALL WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

As the first historic piece of legislation in the new Parliament House, the Union government submitted a Bill on Tuesday to grant women a quota of one-third in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies i.e women’s reservation; however, the small print ensures that the quota won’t be put into effect until after the general election in 2026.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Eighth Amendment) Bill of 2023 cannot be put into effect until a delimitation exercise is finished using information from the most recent census taken after the Bill’s enactment. The following redrawing of constituency lines, or delimitation exercise, is planned for 2026. This effectively indicates that rather than in the elections held in 2019, the Lok Sabha’s women’s quota can be implemented as early as the general election of 2029.

PM MODI’s NOBLE WORK

Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged both Houses of Parliament to enact the Bill by consensus after noting that previous attempts to pass a similar Bill over the previous 27 years have been unsuccessful. He said that God had selected him for this “noble work,” Our government has moved in this way once more. The Women’s Reservation Bill was approved in the cabinet yesterday, Mr. Modi said in his first speech in the new Lok Sabha chamber, amid desk-pounding from MPs.

THE BILL NEEDS OPPOSITION SUPPORT IN RAJYA SABHA

Mr. Modi stated in the Rajya Sabha that “This is such a subject that deserves consensus and I appeal to the members of the Rajya Sabha to support the Bill when it comes here.” The government will need the Opposition’s support to obtain the two-third majority necessary to pass a constitutional amendment Bill.

Arjun Meghwal, the law minister, introduced the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam (the name of the bill) bill in the Lok Sabha. According to the Lower House’s existing makeup, once the law takes effect, there will be 181 more women members than there are now, up from 82.

NO SEPARATE QUOTA FOR BACKWARD CLASS WOMEN

One-third of the seats within the women’s quota will be set aside for women from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha and president of the Congress, Mallikarjun Kharge, brought up the lack of a distinct quota for women from other backward classes during his statement in the Upper House’s new chamber.

The law will be in effect for 15 years after it is made into an Act. Every time a delimitation exercise is conducted, the seats designated for women will be switched.

15% OF MP’s ARE WOMEN

The Bill highlighted that while women hold significant representation in municipal and panchayati raj institutions, it is still insufficient in the State legislatures and in Parliament. Only 15% of the Lok Sabha’s members are women MPs, and several State Assemblies have only approximately 10% of women as members.

The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that it is decided to introduce new legislation for constitutional amendment to provide that as nearly as possibly one-third of total seats in the House of People, the legislative Assembly of every state, and the legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi be reserved for women. This will enable greater participation of women as public representatives in policy making at the state and national levels.

PERHAPS ADDING LOK SABHA SEATS

Vajpayee and then-Prime Minister Deve Gowda, bills to carve out a women’s quota were introduced. Such a Bill was introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the Manmohan Singh-led government in 2008. It was sent to the Lok Sabha after being approved by the Upper House, but because the Lower House did not approve it until that body’s dissolution in 2014, it ultimately expired.

That 2008 Bill did not contain the language connecting the implementation of the women’s quota to delimitation.

The Union government may be planning to expand the number of Lok Sabha seats given that the existing Bill cannot be put into effect until the delimitation using the most recent census takes place in 2026. The Lok Sabha chamber in the new Parliament building has space for 888 MPs.

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