'Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam'| Women's Reservation Bill Introduced In Lok Sabha [Read Bill]
The new Parliament Building witnessed the introduction of its first bill in the Lok Sabha today, a bill that was pending for nearly 27 years- the Women’s Reservation Bill. The bill provides for a 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies. The bill was introduced in the Special Session of Parliament after the proceedings were shifted to the new Parliament Building. The Members walked from the old building to the new building, led by the Prime Minister.
The Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal introduced the Bill as the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to it as the 'Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam'. The statements and object of the bill reads, "In order to enable greater participation of women as public representative in policy making at State and national level, it is decided to introduce a fresh legislation for Constitutional amendment to provide for, as nearly as may be, one-third of total seat in the House of the People, the legislative assembly of every State and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi to be reserved for women".
Referring to unsuccessful attempts made in the past to bring the law, PM Narendra Modi said, “think God chose me to carry on such auspicious tasks”. The Prime Minister also said, “Women are progressing in many fields, and are even leading them, therefore it becomes even more important for them to contribute in the policy making as well”.
Key features of the Bill:
-to ensure greater representation the bill mandates the reservation of seats for women in the Lok Sabha;
-the bill extends its provisions to the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi. “One-third of the seats reserved for Scheduled Castes in the Delhi Assembly are also reserved for women…", reads the bill;
-After Article 330 of the Constitution of India, Article 330A (1) is to be included, which reads, Seats shall be reserved in the House of People of every State...". Among other amendments, “(Article) 332A (1) Seats shall be reserved for women in the Legislative Assembly of every State…” is to be inserted after Article 332 of the Constitution of India;
-as per the bill, the provisions related to the reservation of seats for women in the Lok Sabha, State Assemblies, and the Delhi Assembly will come into effect after a delimitation exercise is conducted;
-it allows for the rotation of reserved seats for women in the Lok Sabha, State Assemblies, and the Delhi Assembly after each subsequent delimitation exercise, as determined by the Parliament.
It is pertinent to note that the 72nd and 73rd Constitutional Amendment Acts, passed in 1992 and 1993 respectively, already has a provision for a 33.3 percent reservation for women and marginalised communities in Panchayati Raj institutions.
The first step in the direction was attempted on September 12, 1996, by then Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda as the Constitution (81st Amendment) Bill, seeking to reserve one-third of seats for women in Parliament and state legislatures. During that time, noting that the seats have been reserved for women under the SC/ST quota, extending the benefit to women under the OBC quota was also sought for. Thereafter, though several attempts were made in this regard, the law did not see the light of the day. The Women’s Reservation Bill [The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008] was introduced in the Rajya Sabha, in 2008, and was passed on March 3, 2010. However, it lapsed ultimately in 2014 with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha due to lack of consensus.
The bill sought to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies, where allocation was to be determined by such authority as prescribed by Parliament. Further, the bill stipulated that one third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved for women of those groups in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies. Also, as per the 108th Amendment Bill, the reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of the Amendment Act.
As per the Bill, a proviso was to be inserted in the end of Article 331 of the Constitution of India, saying, “Provided that, when such nominations are made, in relation to every block comprising of three general elections to the House, one seat shall be reserved for nomination of a woman of Anglo-Indian community to every House constituted after first two general elections and no seat shall be reserved for the women of that community in the House constituted after the third general elections”.