Historic Women's Reservation Bill Clears Both Houses of Parliament

While the bill faces some hurdles on the path to full implementation, it represents a significant step forward in promoting the rights and voices of women in India's democratic process.

Historic Women's Reservation Bill Clears Both Houses of Parliament

In a landmark move for gender equality in India, the Women's Reservation Bill has gained unanimous approval in both houses of Parliament. A mere day after its passage in the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha echoed the sentiment with all 215 Members of Parliament voting in favor of the bill.

Rajya Sabha's Unanimous Support

Unlike its counterpart, the Lok Sabha, where two members of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) expressed their opposition to the bill, the Rajya Sabha displayed no objections from its leaders. This development marks a significant step toward greater gender representation in India's legislative bodies.

Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam: Empowering Women

The bill, officially named the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, is designed to allocate 33% of seats to women in both the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies once it becomes law. However, the implementation of this historic legislation may face delays and is unlikely to be enforced in time for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections scheduled for 2024. This reservation will only come into effect following the completion of a delimitation exercise.

15-Year Reservation with SC/ST Quota

The bill's provisions outline that this reservation will endure for a duration of 15 years, incorporating a one-third quota for women within the seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST). Specifically, the bill mandates the reservation of "approximately one-third of the total number of seats filled through direct election," which will be activated after the conclusion of a delimitation exercise and sustained for 15 years. Additionally, the bill stipulates that seats reserved for women will be subject to rotation after each subsequent delimitation exercise.

States' Consent and Constitutional Amendment

Officials have emphasized that this Constitutional amendment bill, following Article 368, necessitates ratification by a minimum of 50% of the states. This consent is deemed essential as the bill significantly affects states' rights and legislative representation.

AIMIM's Opposition

In contrast to the widespread support, the bill faced opposition from two AIMIM MPs, Asaduddin Owaisi and Imitiaz Jaleel, representing Lok Sabha constituencies. AIMIM, a minority party advocating for the concerns of Muslims, Dalits, and Tribals, expressed reservations about the 'Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam' (women reservation bill). Owaisi voiced his objection to the bill, stating that it lacks provisions for women from the Muslim and Other Backward Classes (OBC) communities. He emphasized, "The major flaw in this bill is the absence of a quota for women from Muslim and OBC communities, which is why we are against it," during an interview with news agency ANI.

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