In a historic move, the Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed a bill to ensure reservation of 33 per cent seats for women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. While as many as 454 Mps voted in favour of the bill, two members voted against it.
The bill will be introduced in Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
Named as Narishakti Vandan Adhiniyam, the bill seeks reservation of 33 per cent seats for women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. It mandates that one third of the total seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be allocated for women from those groups.
The reservation of seats for women will cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of the Amendment Act.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked MPs across party lines who voted in support of the bill which, he said, will enable even greater participation of women in the political process.
“Delighted at the passage of The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 in the Lok Sabha with such phenomenal support. I thank MPs across Party lines who voted in support of this Bill. The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam is a historic legislation which will further boost women empowerment and will enable even greater participation of women in our political process.” Modi said in a post on X.
Earlier, participating in a debate on the bill in the lower house, Union Home Minister Amit Shah sought to allay apprehension of a delay in the implementation of the bill, saying the next government will conduct the census and the delimitation exercise immediately after the elections and set in motion the process to make reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies a reality.
Shah asserted that women empowerment is an issue of “principles and beliefs” for the Bharatiya Janata Party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Women's security, respect and equal participation have been the life force of the government since Modi took the oath of office, he said.
Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal told Lok Sabha that the provision for implementing the bill after census and delimitation was in line with the Constitution.
Responding to the day-long debate on the constitutional amendment bill for women's reservation during which many opposition members questioned the need for census and delimitation before implementing the quota for women as it will delay the process.
Meghwal said if the government agrees to provide reservation immediately, it will be against the provisions of the Constitution.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called the bill “incomplete” as it lacks reservation for other backward classes (OBCs). The Wayanad MP, however, extended his support to the bill tabled in Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Gandhi also questioned the idea that the bill can be implemented only after the new census and delimitation process are over.