Women's Reservation Bill to be in force for 15 years from day of commencement

It will be a rare occasion' where, even the Opposition had called for the bill

INDIA-PARLIAMENT/ New Parliament building | Reuters

The current Lok Sabha has the highest number of elected women members – 82. With PM Narendra Modi's government bringing the Women's Reservation Bill to Lok Sabha, marking the beginning of the new parliament building, the number will jump over to a minimum of 181 seats when it comes into force. With this, the Modi government has taken the lead to fulfil one of its election promises.

It will be one rare occasion' where, most of the political parties, including those from the Opposition, had called for bringing the bill. 

This bill to be called the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Act, 2023, was introduced by the Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal-- it calls for reserving one-third of seats for women in the Lok Sabha, all state assemblies and Delhi legislative assembly. 

The reservation will be in force for 15 years from the day of its commencement, and there will be a rotation of reserved seats. The reservation to Lok Sabha and state assemblies shall come into effect after an exercise of delimitation is undertaken based on the census to be conducted after the passing of the bill. This pushes the actual implementation of the reservation to the 2029 Lok Sabha elections.

According to the bill, after a new section Article 330A of the Constitution is introduced, one-third of seats shall be reserved for women in the Lok Sabha. 

“As nearly as may be, one-third of the total number of seats reserved under clause (2) of article 330 shall be reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes. As nearly as may be, one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election to the House of the People shall be reserved for women,” the bill reads. 

Taking the women's reservation to the state assemblies, the bill proposes that after Article 332 of the Constitution, a new article, 332A may be inserted to reserve seats for women in the Legislative Assembly of every State.

The bill also makes provision for reserving seats in the Delhi assembly as the jurisdiction of making laws falls with the parliament.

Addressing the parliament during the first sitting in the new building, Modi said, in the past, there have been attempts to bring women legislation in the past, including during Atal Bihari Vajyapee’s regime, but they could not gather numbers. “I have been chosen for this auspicious work,” Modi said.

Modi said it was important that women participated in the policy-making.

The last attempt to pass the women's reservation bill was made in 2010 when the Rajya Sabha passed the Bill, but the same could not be passed in the Lok Sabha. Thus, the bill had lapsed with the tenure of the house getting over.

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, the government said that India has begun its journey towards becoming Vikasit Bharat (developed Bharat) by 2047. “Realisation of this goal will require contribution of all sections of society in the spirit of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas'. The role of women, constituting half of the population, is extremely important in the realisation of this goal.

The government talked about its various initiatives for women including Ujawala Yojana, access to toilets under the Swacch Bharat Mission, and financial inclusion through the Mudra Yojana. “However, true empowerment of women will require greater participation of women in the decision-making process as they bring different perspectives and enrich the quality of legislative debates and decision-making.

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