Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal tabled the Women's Reservation Bill 2023 [The Constitution (128th Amendment) Bill] on Tuesday (19 September). The bill is being discussed today in Lok Sabha at the new parliament building.
Key features of the Bill
The Bill reserves, as nearly as may be, one-third of all seats for women in Lok Sabha, state legislative assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. This will also apply to the seats reserved for SCs and STs in Lok Sabha and states legislatures.
The reservation will be effective after the census conducted after the commencement of this Bill has been published. Based on the census, delimitation will be undertaken to reserve seats for women. The reservation will be provided for a period of 15 years. However, it shall continue till such date as determined by a law made by Parliament.
Seats reserved for women will be rotated after each delimitation, as determined by a law made by Parliament. This implies rotation approximately every 10 years as after 2026 delimitation is mandated to take place after every census.
Bills amending the Constitution to reserve seats for women in Parliament and state legislative assemblies have been introduced in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2008. The first three Bills lapsed with the dissolution of their respective Lok Sabhas. The 2008 Bill was introduced in and passed by Rajya Sabha but it also lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
In 2015, the Report on the Status of Women in India noted that the representation of women in state assemblies and Parliament continues to be dismal. It noted that decision-making positions in political parties have negligible presence of women.
While the number of women MPs has increased from 5 per cent in the first Lok Sabha to 15 per cent in the 17th Lok Sabha; the number continues to be quite low. Hence, the need for a legislature was felt.
What's different from the 2008 Bill
While the 2008 Bill proposed reserving one-third of Lok Sabha seats in each state/UT for women, the 2023 Bill aims to provide one-third of reservation on overall seats in Lok Sabha.
Another difference is that the 2008 Bill proposed rotating reserved seats after every general election to the Parliament/legislative assembly, the 2023 Bill suggests that the rotation exercise will be conducted only after every delimitation exercise.
This has been suggested because the rotation of reserved seats after every election may reduce the incentive for MPs to work for their constituencies as they could be ineligible to seek re-election from that constituency.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
An appeal from Swarajya
At Swarajya, we rely on our readers' support through subscriptions to sustain our media platform. Unlike larger conglomerates, we are unable to relentlessly chase advertising money — our model is largely built on your patronage.
Your support has never been more crucial. We work tirelessly to deliver 10-15 high-quality articles daily, ensuring you receive insightful content from 7 AM to 10 PM.
If you believe India's story has to be articulated in a way it has never been done before without shrugging it off, become a patron (or) subscribe now for ₹̶2̶4̶0̶0̶ ₹1999 and get 12 print issues, unlimited digital access for 1 year, a special India that is Bharat T-shirt (Offer ends soon).
We are counting on you!