Home > Legislation Related > Update on the Women’s Reservation Bill

Update on the Women’s Reservation Bill

Speaker Meira Kumar has urged political parties to arrive at a consensus on the women’s reservation bill.  The 2008 Bill has the following main features. 

1. It reserves one-third of all seats in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies within each state for women. 

2. There is quota-within-quota for SCs, STs and Anglo-Indians. 

3. The reserved seats will be rotated after each general elections – thus after a cycle of three elections, all constituencies would have been reserved once.  This reservation will be operational for 15 years.

 This Bill has had a chequered history.  A similar Bill was introduced in 1996, 1998 and 1999 – all of which lapsed after the dissolution of the respective Lok Sabhas.  A Joint Parliamentary Committee chaired by Geeta Mukherjee examined the 1996 Bill and made seven recommendations.  Five of these have been included in the latest 2008 Bill.  These are (i) reservation for a period of 15 years; (ii) including sub-reservation for Anglo Indians; (iii) including reservation in cases where the state has less than three seats in Lok Sabha (or less than three seats for SCs/STs); (iv) including reservation for the Delhi assembly; and (v) changing “not less than one-third” to “as nearly as may be, one-third”.

 Two of the recommendations are not incorporated in the 2008 Bill.  The first is for reserving seats in Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils.  The second is for sub-reservation for OBC women after the Constitution extends reservation to OBCs.

The 2008 Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice.  This Committee failed to reach a consensus in its final report.  The Committee has recommendedthat the Bill “be passed in Parliament and put in action without further delay.  Two members of the Committee, Virender Bhatia and Shailendra Kumar (both belonging to the Samajwadi Party) dissented stating that they were not against providing reservation to women but disagreed with the way this Bill was drafted.  They had three recommendations:  (i) every political party must distribute 20% of its tickets to women; (ii) even in the current form, reservation should not exceed 20% of seats; and (iii) there should be a quota for women belonging to OBCs and minorities.

The Standing committee considered two other methods of increasing representation.  One suggestion (part of election commission recommendations) was to requite political parties to nominate women for a minimum percentage of seats.  The committee felt that parties could bypass the spirit of the law by nominating women to losing seats.  The second recommendation was to create dual member constituencies, with women filling one of the two seats from those constituencies.  The Committee believed that this move could “result in women being reduced to a subservient status, which will defeat the very purpose of the Bill”.

It is interesting to note that the Committee did not reject the two recommendations of the Geeta Mukherjee Committee that are not reflected in the Bill.  The Committee concluded that the issue of reservations to Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils needs to be examined thoroughly as the upper Houses play an equally important role under the Constitution.  Incidentally, it is not possible to reserve seats in Rajya Sabha given the current system of elections to that house (see Appendix below).

On the issue of  reservations to OBC women, the Committee said that “all other issues may be considered at an appropriate time by Government without any further delay at the present time in the passage of the Bill”.

Though the Bill does not have a consensus – it has been opposed by SP, RJD and JD(U) – most parties have publicly expressed their support for it.  The government will likely not find it difficult to muster two-third support in each House of Parliament were the Bill be taken up for consideration and passing.  It would be interesting to see whether the Bill is brought before Parliament in the upcoming Budget Session.

Appendix: Impossibility of Reservation in Rajya Sabha

Article 80of the Constitution specifies that members of state assemblies will elect Rajya Sabha MPs through single transferable vote.  This implies that the votes are first allocated to the most preferred candidate, and then to the next preferred candidate, and so on.  This system cannot accommodate the principle of reserving a certain number of seats for a particular group.  Currently, Rajya Sabha does not have reservation for SCs and STs.

Therefore, any system that provides reservation in Rajya Sabha implies that the Constitution must be amended to jettison the Single Transferable Vote system.

  1. February 12th, 2010 at 18:29 | #1

    i very love your own posting choice, very exciting.
    don’t quit and also keep posting in all honesty , because it simply truly worth to read it.
    impatient to browse more of your well written articles, thankx!

  2. February 20th, 2010 at 16:52 | #2

    This article was very useful for a paper I am writing for my thesis.

    Thanks

    Bernice Franklin
    UGG Purses
    UGG Bags
    Classic Tall Chestnut

  3. February 21st, 2010 at 01:55 | #3

    I want to thank the blogger very much not only for this post but also for his all previous efforts. I found prsindia.org to be very interesting. I will be coming back to prsindia.org for more information.

  4. nvc
    March 8th, 2010 at 08:32 | #4

    If the bill on Woman reservation get passed it will impact us in many way.
    1. India became a pseudo democracy instead of a true democracy. In a genuine democracy people have a very right to choose their representative from the eligible ones. If the eligibility is barred by Status, Caste, creed or sex or by any other means democracy doesn't remain ideal.
    Remember either things remain ideal or become loosy.
    2. The motive behind the bill is to empower women. Empowerment never means that you achieve something for which you are not compatible or you haven't compete to the level of other successful candidates.
    Real empowerment increase your compatibility to met the criteria not make condition favorable to you.
    True empowerment will be that all political parties adopt the same level of reservation for women within themselves and work hard to increase their qualities and competitiveness towards public life and strengthen them to be a public representative.

  5. March 27th, 2014 at 19:55 | #5

    This is a excellent posting, I located your website browsing aol for a related topic and arrived to this. I couldn’t get to much other details on this piece, so it was great to find this one. I will probably end up being back to check out some other posts that you have another time.

  1. March 7th, 2010 at 15:01 | #1
*