The Women’s Reservation Bill, which has been introduced in the Lok Sabha, aims to establish a 33 percent quota for women in both the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.
In Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented the bill. (Photo: India Today)
Today, in the ongoing special session of Parliament, the Women’s Reservation Bill, aimed at providing a 33 percent quota for women in both the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, was introduced in the Lok Sabha. Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to September 19 as a “historic day” and called upon the Opposition to unite in passing the Bill, known as the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam,’ which has been pending for nearly three decades.
In Lok Sabha, Prime Minister Modi stated, “On this historic occasion in the new Parliament building, as the first proceeding of the House, the beginning of all the Parliamentarians opening gateways for women power is being done with this crucial decision.”
He announced that his government was introducing an important constitutional amendment bill, advancing the goal of women-led development.
PM Modi expressed, “Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’ will further empower our democracy,” and he urged lawmakers to support the bill, acknowledging past debates on women’s reservation. Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal subsequently presented the bill to lawmakers.
Despite women accounting for nearly half of the country’s 950 million registered voters, they currently constitute only 15 percent of parliamentarians and about 10 percent of state legislatures.
Meghwal revealed that once approved, the bill would increase the number of women MPs in Lok Sabha from the current 82 to 181.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury attributed the women’s quota bill to his party, stating, “Former Congress governments under Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao, and Manmohan Singh had consistently tried to pass the bill to provide reservation for women.”
He also claimed that the Women’s Reservation Bill, which was passed in the Rajya Sabha during the Congress regime under Manmohan Singh, was still pending.
However, Union Home Minister Amit Shah countered the claim, stating that the bill had already lapsed.
Key Highlights of the Women’s Reservation Bill:
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023, seeks to introduce three new articles and one new clause in the Constitution.
- A new clause in 239AA: Seats shall be reserved for women in the Delhi Legislative Assembly; 1/3rd of the seats reserved for SCs shall also be reserved for women, and 1/3rd of the total number of seats to be filled by direct elections shall be reserved for women through a law determined by parliament.
- A new Article – 330A: Reservation for women in Lok Sabha – 1/3rd of seats reserved for SCs and STs shall be reserved for women, and 1/3rd of the total seats to be filled by direct elections to the Lok Sabha shall be reserved for women.
- A new Article – 332A: Reserved seats for women in every state Legislative Assembly; 1/3rd of seats reserved for SCs and STs shall also be reserved for women, and 1/3rd of the total seats to be filled by direct elections to the Legislative Assembly shall be reserved for women.
- A new Article – 334A: Reservation shall come into effect after the delimitation is undertaken following the publication of relevant figures from the first census. Rotation of seats for women shall take effect after each subsequent exercise of delimitation.
The journey of the bill began in 1996 when it was first introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Deve Gowda-led United Front government. However, it faced rejection and was referred to a joint parliamentary committee, ultimately lapsing with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. Subsequent attempts to pass the bill in 1998, 1999, 2002, and 2003 were also unsuccessful.
In 2008, it was passed in the Rajya Sabha during the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, but it was never taken up for consideration in the Lok Sabha, and it lapsed again with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.