The Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal presented the 'Women's Reservation Bill' in the Lok Sabha on 19 September 2023. It has been named the 'Nari Shakti Vandan Act'.
On the second day of the special session of Parliament, a historic bill related to women was presented in the New Parliament House.
- This bill has a provision to reserve 33% of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats for women. If this Bill becomes law, every third member of the Lok Sabha and all state Legislative Assemblies will be women
Important facts related to the bill:
128th Constitution Amendment Bill:
- This bill has reserved 33 per cent of seats for women in the Lok Sabha and Assembly. It has been introduced under the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill.
- After this amendment, one-third of participation in the Lok Sabha will be from women. This bill will not only bolster women's empowerment but also enhance the representation of half of the population.
Women's participation will increase:
- After this bill becomes an Act, at least 181 women MPs will be elected to the Lok Sabha, whereas at present, the number of women MPs in the House is only 82.
The provision will also be applicable in state assemblies:
- This modification will also apply to the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of all of the country's states. For example, 33 per cent of seats will be reserved for women in the Lok Sabha. Similarly, it will become mandatory to have 33 per cent seats for women in the assemblies of all the states.
- Under this, 33 per cent of seats will be reserved for women, even among the seats allotted for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- In this bill, under Article 239AA of the Constitution, 33 per cent reservation has been given to women in the Legislative Assembly of the capital Delhi.
Provision of reservation for 15 years:
- Following the passage of this bill, a provision was established for reserving reserved seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of all states for a period of 15 years
- Along with this, there is a provision in this bill that the allocation of seats will be done under the rotation system.
Provisions for reserved category women in the Bill:
- Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) Women:
- There is no distinct reservation specifically for SC-ST women; this reservation arrangement has been incorporated within the existing reservation structure.
- To clarify, within the reserved seats for the SC-ST category in the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies, only 33% will be allocated for women.
- Currently, 84 seats in the Lok Sabha are reserved for SC and 47 for ST. After the bill becomes law, 28 out of 84 SC seats will be reserved for SC women. Similarly, out of 47 ST seats, 16 will be for ST women.
- OBC Women:
- There is no reservation system for the OBC category in Lok Sabha. After removing the reserved seats of SC-ST, 412 seats are left in the Lok Sabha.
- Along with general, OBC candidates also contest on these seats. This way, 137 seats will be for women of general and OBC categories.
Will women be able to contest on unreserved seats?
- According to this bill, women can contest elections even from seats which will not be reserved for women. This bill has been brought so that the participation of women in Lok Sabha and Assembly can increase.
- There is no provision for women's reservation in Rajya Sabha and State Legislative Council:
- The women's reservation policy will not apply in the Rajya Sabha and states with a Legislative Council system.
- If this bill becomes law, it will apply only to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies.
When will the bill come into effect?
- Even if this bill becomes an Act, it may still take time to be implemented. In this context, it is being said that this law can be implemented only after delimitation.
- Lok Sabha seats will be delimited in the country after 2026. Women's reservation will be implemented only after this delimitation. This law will not be in place during the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Representation of women in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies:
- Women's representation in Parliament and most assemblies is less than 15 per cent. According to government data, women's participation in 19 assemblies is less than 10 per cent.
Presently, the number of women MPs:
- Out of 543 members in the present Lok Sabha, the number of women is 78, less than 15 per cent. Women's representation in Rajya Sabha is about 14 per cent.
Percentage of women MLAs in various assemblies:
- Women's participation in many assemblies is less than 10 per cent. For example, there are 8.2 per cent women MLAs in the Gujarat Assembly, whereas there is only one woman MLA in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly. Along with this, the representation of women in the Haryana Assembly is 10 per cent.
Assemblies where women's representation is more than 10 per cent:
- Bihar (10.70 per cent),
- Chhattisgarh (14.44 per cent),
- Jharkhand (12.35 percent),
- Punjab (11.11 percent),
- Rajasthan (12 percent),
- Uttarakhand (11.43 percent),
- Uttar Pradesh (11.66 percent),
- West Bengal (13.70 per cent) and
- Delhi (11.43 per cent).
This bill has been stalled for almost three decades:
- The Women's Reservation Bill has been pending for the last 27 years. It was first introduced on 12 September 1996 by the government of HD Deve Gowda.
- However, this bill could not be passed at that time. Even after this, almost all the governments tried to make it a law but failed.