21 Sep 2023 6:01 PM GMT
The Rajya Sabha on Thursday (September 21) unanimously passed the Bill proposing to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha, the state legislatures, and the Delhi legislative assembly. The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eight Amendment) Bill 2023 was introduced by Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal in the upper house today, after the Lok Sabha passed it yesterday...
The Rajya Sabha on Thursday (September 21) unanimously passed the Bill proposing to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha, the state legislatures, and the Delhi legislative assembly.
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eight Amendment) Bill 2023 was introduced by Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal in the upper house today, after the Lok Sabha passed it yesterday with the support of 2/3rd majority of the members present and voting (In Lok Sabha, 454 Members supported it and 2 opposed).
On the fourth day of the special Parliament session, the proposed constitutional amendment was cleared, with all 214 Rajya Sabha members present voting in favour of the bill. Nobody voted against it. There were no abstentions as well.
The Constitution Amendment Bill seeks to introduce 33 percent reservation for women in the Lower House of Parliament, the state legislatures, and the Delhi legislative assembly. It must also be noted that in its current form, the women’s reservation bill is proposed to be enforced only after an exercise of delimitation is undertaken following the first census conducted after its enactment.
Discussion for over 12 hours
The discussion in the house commenced at around 11.16 AM and it went on uninterruptedly for over 12 hours. The bill was formally declared as passed at 11.30 PM.
The opposition leaders in the Rajya Sabha, echoing the sentiments of their counterparts in the lower house, broadly supported women's reservation, but questioned this clause deferring its implementation. Many also questioned the government over its 'delay' in introducing this bill despite its poll promise to introduce reservation for women in union and state legislatures, pointing to the Bharatiya Janata Party's absolute majority in the Parliament. The opposition parties again raised demands for the women's reservation bill to be implemented immediately, urging the union government to dispense with the requirement of conducting a census and a delimitation exercise first. Another issue flagged by several members was the non-inclusion of women belonging to other backward classes (OBC) in the provision for horizontal reservation in the proposed amendment. Several members also demanded that a certain proportion of seats within the women's quota be reserved for women from minority communities.
Live-account of the discussion can be read here.
The last time a bill to reserve seats for women in the Lower House of the Parliament, state legislatures, and Delhi legislative assembly, was introduced was over a decade ago, when the Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008 was passed by the Rajya Sabha. This bill, however, lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha (2009-14).
The 2008 bill proposed amendments to three constitutional provisions – Article 239AA (Special provisions with respect to Delhi), Article 331 (Representation of the Anglo-Indian community in the House of the People), and Article 333 (Representation of the Anglo-Indian community in the Legislative Assemblies of the States). Additionally, it introduced three new articles, namely Articles 330A, 332A, and 334A. The first two newly proposed articles sought to introduce reservation for women in Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies, while the last article contained a sunset clause for this affirmative policy to be phased out after a period of 15 years.
The 2023 bill proposes an amendment to one constitutional provision, i.e., Article 239AA (Special provisions with respect to Delhi), and the insertion of three new articles namely Articles 330A, 332A, and 334A - the first two seeking to introduce 33 percent in Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies respectively. A crucial difference between the earlier bill and the constitutional amendment bill that has now been introduced is that it is proposed to be enforced after an exercise of delimitation is undertaken for the purpose following the first census after the enactment of the bill, although the sunset clause has been retained. Provisions relating to the reservation for the Anglo-Indian community have also been left undisturbed, unlike in the previous bill which sought to amend Articles 331 and 333.
This bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, September 20, with 454 members voting in favour and two voting against it.