What is known about the Women's Reservation Bill in Lok Sabha so far

The Women's Reservation Bill is the first bill to be discussed in the new parliament building. Lok Sabha is scheduled to discuss and pass the Bill on Wednesday

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BS Web Team New Delhi

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The 128th Constitution Amendment Bill, also called the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, became the first bill to be introduced in Tuesday's Lok Sabha session in the new parliament building.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government finalised this bill a day prior in a union cabinet meeting held after the first day of the Special Parliament Session.
The Congress party accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of delaying the bill for electoral gains, while former Congress President Sonia Gandhi referred to it as "ours," alluding to the UPA government's efforts to secure its passage in the Rajya Sabha in 2010. BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah accused the Congress party of "tokenism" and alleged that the party allowed the bill to lapse.
Here's what is known so far about the Women's Reservation Bill that has been tabled in Parliament:

What is the Women Reservation bill?

The Women's Reservation Bill proposes reserving one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies for women, contingent upon the next delimitation exercise.
There is also a provision for the reservation of seats for women belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST). However, there is no mention of Other Backward Classes (OBC), which has been the subject of debate in the Parliament.
To enact these changes, the bill proposes amendments to Article 239AA and introduces Articles 330A, 332A, and 334A.
The bill also includes a 15-year sunset clause for the quota, which can be extended as needed.
There is also no provision for women's reservation in the Rajya Sabha or Legislative Councils. However, the Centre stated that it hopes the Rajya Sabha will follow suit during the special session.

Why is the bill needed?

Women's representation in state legislatures and Parliament remains limited despite their active participation in local governance. Moreover, enhancing women's empowerment requires increased participation in decision-making, which can also enrich legislative debates. Many state governments have provided 50 per cent reservation for women, with Bihar being the first in 2006.

Also Read: Women's Reservation Bill: Where else have seats been reserved for women?

When will it be implemented?

The Opposition has criticised the bill for delaying its implementation till 2036 if enacted. This is because of the delimitation clause and amendments to the Constitution recommended in the bill.
The scheduled delimitation will be in 2026. However, this will not be possible without the latest census data, as the 2021 census was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With the general elections slated for 2024, the next census may not be taken, at the earliest, until the end of next year.
Amending the Constitution requires at least half of MPs to be present and voting, with two-thirds of them voting in favour. It must also be passed in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, with at least half of state assemblies needed to clear the bill. Finally, the President must give their assent.
The earliest the bill may be implemented would be for the 2029 elections.
The Lok Sabha is scheduled to discuss and pass the Bill on Wednesday.

First Published: Sep 20 2023 | 11:49 AM IST

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