Why is it in the news?
- The Lok Sabha recently passed two Bills extending the 33% reservation for women in Parliament and State legislatures, as per the Constitution (106th Amendment) Act, to the Union Territories of Puducherry and Jammu and Kashmir.
About Women’s Reservation Bill
· The Women’s Reservation Bill, also known as Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, has a long history, introduced first in 1996.
· Despite passage in the Rajya Sabha in March 2010, it faced delays in the Lok Sabha due to a lack of consensus.
· Finally passed in September 2023 as the Constitution (One Hundred and Sixth Amendment) Act, 2023.
· The bill aims to reserve 33% of seats for women in the Lok Sabha, State legislative assemblies, and the Delhi legislative assembly.
· Importantly, this reservation applies to seats already reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in both the Lok Sabha and state legislatures.
· Reservation becomes effective after the census, and the delimitation process will be based on the census data.
· Initially set for 15 years, but it can continue beyond that, subject to determination by a law made by Parliament.
· Seats reserved for women will undergo rotation after each delimitation, determined by legislation passed by Parliament.
Need and Purpose
· Advocates argue that affirmative action is crucial due to the inherent patriarchal nature of political parties.
· Despite the national movement’s hopes, women remain under-represented, constituting around 15% in the Lok Sabha and less than 10% in many State Assemblies.
· India’s representation of women in the lower House is comparatively lower than neighbouring countries like Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
Effects of Reservation
· Reservation is seen as a means to empower women, ensuring their meaningful contribution and creating a strong lobby in Parliament for issues often overlooked.
· Opponents argue that the idea of reservation contradicts the principle of equality enshrined in the Constitution.
· There are concerns that women might not be competing on merit if there is a reservation, potentially lowering their status in society.
· Critics contend that the reservation of seats in Parliament limits the choice of voters to women candidates, potentially restricting the democratic process.