It was 27 seven years since the Reservation Bill for women was initially introduced in the Parliament, the Lok Sabha on 20th September. The Women’s Reservation Bill 2023 (128th Constitutional Amendment Bill) also known as the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam was successfully passed by both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha houses respectively. The bill states that one-third of the seats for women in Lok Sabha, Delhi assemble and the State legislative assembly. This will also apply to the seats reserved for the minority sections of the society including SCs (Schedule Castes) and Schedule Tribes (STs) in the State and the Lok Sabha Legislatures.
The bill also introduces Article 332A, which subsequently mandates the reservation for the women in each of the State Legislative Assembly. This reservation will be granted to the women for the next 15 years and it will thereby be continued in the future as determined by the law made by the Parliament.
Need for the Bill
The discussion for this bill was much earlier discussed in 1996 under the rule of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but due to the lack of support from the Lok Sabha, the bill did not get approved.
1996: Introduction to the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Parliament.
1998-2003: Government proposed the bill on 4 occasions but failed.
2009: Government proposes the bill amidst all the protests.
2010: The Union Government passes the bill and the RS passes it as well.
2014: The bill was expected to be tabled in the LS
2023: The bill successfully got passed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha
Interestingly, it is to be noted that the government who passed the bill this year is the same government who had protested against the bill in the year of 2010. The strongest opponents of the bill were the former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and other BJP stalwarts namely LK Advani, Ram Jethmalani and Yashwant Singh.
The current bill also does not provide reservation to the women’s seat in the State Legislative and Rajya Sabha Councils. The representation of women in the Rajya Sabha is comparatively lower than the Lok Sabha Council. Representation of women should be maintained on equal grounds in both the Upper and the Lower Houses. Some of the political leaders also criticized the bill for its subsequent release. The Reservation Bill also did not mention that it will come directly into effect as it will come into action only after the exercise of delimitation is undertaken based on those figures from the first Census which is conducted after the enactment of the act. Amit Shah also stated that the bill will not be implemented before the 2029 elections. Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi supported the bill but he stated that the bill was “incomplete” without a quota for women from Other Backward Classes. DMK MP Kanimozhi expressed her fears regarding the reduction in representation of the southern States in her speech in the Lok Sabha by stating: “I refer to the statement by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on the matter of delimitation, where he says that India is the only country that has not conducted the decadal Census. If delimitation is going to be based on population Census, it will deprive and reduce the representation of South Indian States. It will become like a sword hanging over our heads.”
AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi strongly opposed the bill by voicing that the bill would only provide reservation to the “savarna women” and also questioned the government by asking that why was there no reservation for the Muslim and the OBC women who have less representation at these houses. He stated: “We know that there are 7% of the Muslim women of the total population, but in this Lok Sabha, their representation only stands at 0.7%. ”