Women’s Reservation Bill: The bill, which is pending for over two decades, was passed in Rajya Sabha during the Manmohan Singh-led government in 2010 and is awaiting Lok Sabha approval.
As the special session of Parliament kicked off on Monday, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury reiterated the party’s demand for the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill by the House. The bill, which has been pending for nearly three decades now, found backing from parties from both the ruling and Opposition alliances at the all-party meeting held last week.
While the women’s reservation bill has not been listed in the agenda of the government for the five-day session, Union Minister Pralhad Joshi said the Centre would take a decision at the appropriate time.
Interestingly, the bill, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha during the Manmohan Singh-led government in 2010, has not lapsed as the Upper House never dissolves.
What Is The Women’s Reservation Bill?
In simple terms, the Women’s Reservation Bill proposes to reserve 33 per cent or one-third of all seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women. The bill also proposes sub-reservation for SCs, STs and Anglo-Indians within the 33 per cent quota. Reserved seats should be rotated after each general election, the bill proposes.
When Was The Bill First Brought?
The legislation was first introduced in the Lok Sabha as the 81st Amendment Bill on September 12, 1996, by the Deve Gowda-led United Front government. However, the bill failed to get passed by the House and it lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
Two years later, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government pushed the bill in the 12th Lok Sabha in 1998. A strong proponent of the legislation, Vajpayee had mentioned 33 per cent reservation for women in his Independence Day speech in 1998.
However, this time too, the bill failed to get support, and it lapsed again. It was subsequently reintroduced in 1999, 2002 and 2003 under the Vajpayee government, but with no luck.
Around five years later, the bill gained some traction again during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA-1 government. The legislation was reintroduced in the Rajya Sabha on May 6, 2008, and was sent to the standing committee on May 9, 2008.
The standing committee presented its report on December 17, 2009. It got the stamp of approval from the Union Cabinet in February 2010.
The women’s reservation bill was eventually passed in the Rajya Sabha with 186-1 votes on March 9, 2010.
However, it was never taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha and eventually lapsed in 2014 with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.
At the time, the RJD and the Samajwadi Party strictly opposed the bill as they demanded caste-wise reservation for women.
Does India Have Political Reservation For Women?
Yes, India has reservation for women in Panchayati Raj institutions. It is provided through Article 243D of the Constitution.
In 1992, the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act was passed, mandating 33.3 per cent reservation for women and marginalised communities in Panchayati Raj institutions.
The historic amendment saw more than 14.5 lakh women taking leadership positions and becoming a part of local governance.
Today, as many as 21 states have increased reservations for women in Panchayati Raj institutions to 50 per cent.
These states are — Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.