Both Houses of Parliament have passed the Women's Reservation Bill 2023 [The Constitution (One Hundred Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023]. The Bill seeks to reserve one-third of the total seats for women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.
In 1993, the 73rd and 74th Amendments were passed, which added panchayats and municipalities to the Constitution. These amendments also reserved one-third of seats in these bodies for women.
15% of the total members of the 17th Lok Sabha are women, while in state legislative assemblies, women, on average, constitute 9% of the total members.
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. It recommended reserving at least 50% of seats for women in local bodies, state legislative assemblies, Parliament, ministerial levels, and all government decision-making bodies. The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women (2001) stated that reservation will be considered in higher legislative bodies.
India is a signatory to the Convention, and discrimination in matters of representation of women in decision-making bodies has continued.
Reservation: The Bill suggests reserving one-third of all seats in Lok Sabha, state legislative assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi for women. This reservation will also apply to the seats reserved for SCs and STs in Lok Sabha and state legislatures.
Commencement of reservation: The reservation will be effective after the new census will be published. Based on the census, delimitation will be undertaken to reserve seats for women. The reservation will be provided for 15 years. However, it shall continue till such date as determined by the law made by Parliament.
Rotation of seats: Seats reserved for women will be rotated after each delimitation, as determined by the law made by Parliament.
Timeline for Implementation: The Bill merely reads that it shall come into effect "after the exercise of delimitation is undertaken for this purpose after the relevant figures for the first Census taken after commencement of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Act, 2023 has been published". It doesn't specify the cycle of elections from which women will get their due share.
Reservation in Rajya Sabha and State Councils: In line with the preceding governments, the current Bill does not provide women's reservation in the Rajya Sabha and state legislative councils. The Rajya Sabha currently has a lower representation of women than the Lok Sabha. Representation is an ideal that must be reflected in both the Lower and Upper Houses.
Process for Bill to Become an Act
Types: There Are Four Types Of Bills
Constitutional Amendment Bill: These bills were passed to change the Constitution of India.
Money Bil: These bills are related to money, like if the government were to take loans, related to tax, etc.
Finance Bill: The finance bill is a mixture of money bills and additional topics.
Ordinary Bill: All the topics which do not fall in any bill come under ordinary bills.
Stages Of The Ordinary Bill To Become An Act:
First Reading: The process starts with introducing the Bill in either House of the Parliament (Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha). A bill can be introduced by the Minister or any private member of that House. When a Minister introduces a Bill, it is called a Government Bill; in the case of a Private member, it is known as a Private Member's Bill.
Publication In Gazette: The Bill will be published in the Official Gazettes after the introduction of the Bill. A bill can also be published without introduction, with the permission of the Speaker. In such a case, the leave to introduce the Bill in the House is not asked. The Bill is straightway introduced.
Reference Of The Bill To The Standing Committee: After the Bill's publication, the House's presiding officer may refer the Bill to the standing committee to make a report of the Bill. The period to make the report is 3 months. The standing committee can also take the expert or public opinion on that Bill.
Second Reading: The Bill will be discussed clause-by-clause in the House in the second reading. The changes will be made in the Bill through discussions. If the Bill needs some changes, the changes will be made in this process, and the modifications will be made.
Third Reading: This is the last stage of One House. Bill is considered passed by the House if the majority of members present and voting accept it. If the Bill is passed, it will be sent to the other House, and that House will follow the same process.
Constitutional Amendment Bills
Article 368 stipulates that amendments seeking to make changes to
Bills containing provisions seeking to amend the Constitution or having the effect of amending the Constitution for the following purposes are passed by both Houses of Parliament by a Simple Majority, i.e., by a majority of votes of the Members present and voting:
(a) The Constitution allows for states' admission, formation, and alteration, including their areas, boundaries, and names (Articles 2, 3, and 4).
(b) Article 169 deals with the establishment or removal of Legislative Councils in the States.;
(c) Creation of a Legislature or a Council of Ministers for the Union territory of Puducherry article 239A);
(d) There are specific provisions regarding Delhi outlined in Article 239AA.;
(e) Extend Part IX provisions to Scheduled and tribal areas (Articles 244 and 243M).
(f) Extension of provisions of Part IX-A to Scheduled Areas and tribal areas referred to in Article 244 (article 243ZC);
(g) Article 244A allows for forming a self-governing state in Assam comprising certain tribal areas with a local Legislature or Council of Ministers or both.
(h) Creation of all-India judicial service (article 312);
(i) administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes (Fifth schedule); and
(j) administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram (Sixth Schedule).
Houses of Parliament on the Bill as Article 368 of the Constitution requires each House to pass the Bill by the prescribed special majority—assent to Constitution Amendment Bills.
These Bills are not deemed as Constitution Amendment Bills under article 368 of the Constitution and, therefore, these are not called by the title ‘Constitution Amendment Bills’.
Assent of President: Legislatures are presented to the President under Article 368 of the Constitution, under which the President is bound to give assent to such Bills.
Joint Sitting: In case of any disagreement between the two Houses of Parliament on a Constitution Amendment Bill, there cannot be a joint sitting.