Women’s Reservation Bill to be presented in Upper House after clearing Lok Sabha test

Women's quota bill. A moment from the voting on the Women's Reservation Bill in Lok Sabha/ courtesy: UN

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New Delhi/IBNS: The historic Women’s Reservation Bill designed to provide 33 percent reservation to women in Parliament and state assemblies was passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday after hours of fierce debate. 

This was the first time the bill was introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha.

The lower house of the Parliament passed the bill through a voice vote in its new building during the five-day special session called on the occasion of 75 years of Indian Independence.

The bill received the support of 454 MPs while only two members voted against it.

The Women’s Reservation Bill will be presented in Rajya Sabha on Thursday, which is the penultimate day of the special session.

The implementation of the quota, though, can take place only after a census and delimitation, which pushes it back by at least six years.

“In order to enable greater participation of women as public representative in policy making at the 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 seats in the House of the People (Lok Sabha), the legislative assembly of every state and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi to be reserved for women,” according to the statement of objects and reasons of the Constitution (128th Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal on Tuesday moved the bill for consideration and passage in Lok Sabha in the new Parliament building.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said that both delimitation and census will begin after next year’s general election.

This is the first time the bill has been able to clear the Lok Sabha. The 2008 bill drafted by the then UPA government was able to clear the Rajya Sabha test earlier before being scuttled by parties demanding quota for Other Backward Classes as well.

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Shah earlier in the day accused Opposition parties of lacking the will to push through the bill and playing politics over it.

“This is the fifth attempt to bring this bill — From HD Devegowda to Manmohan Singh. What were the reasons why it failed to get nod,” he said.

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi supported the Women’s Reservation Bill in the Lok Sabha but said it was “incomplete” without a quota for OBC representatives.

Presenting his views on the bill, Rahul said the bill can be implemented today itself by allocating 33 percent of Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha seats to women

Earlier in the day, Congress Parliamentary Party chief Sonia Gandhi also supported the Women’s Reservation Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha but called for its immediate implementation and an urgent “cast census” for including quotas for SC, ST, and OBC representatives.

Initiating the debate from the Congress party in the Lok Sabha on the bill, Sonia Gandhi said, “On behalf of the Congress party, I stand in support of the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam 2023’ (Women’s Reservation Bill).”

“The Congress demands that this Bill be enforced immediately, and along with that, provisions should be made for reservations for women from SC, ST and OBC communities by holding a caste census,” Sonia said.