New Delhi: Lok Sabha today passed the Women’s Reservation Bill also known as ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam’ with a majority vote.
Out of the 456 MPs who participated in the voting, an impressive 454 voted in favor of the bill, with only two MPs opposing it.
Under the new law, 33% of seats to women in both the Lower House of Parliament and state legislative assemblies will be reserved for women. However, the implementation of this proposed law may take several more years, as emphasized by Opposition leaders.
Following the vote, Speaker Om Birla announced, “The proposal has garnered the support of more than two-thirds of the members present in the house.”
To become law, the bill must now receive approval from the parliament’s upper house and at least half of India’s state assemblies.
This achievement marks the culmination of six previous attempts to pass the bill, which was first introduced in 1996 and faced strong resistance from lawmakers at various times. As per official figures, India currently boasts only 104 women MPs out of nearly 800, underscoring the pressing need for gender representation.
It is important to note that the quota will only come into effect following the completion of India’s postponed 2021 census, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some Opposition leaders have criticized the bill, suggesting that it may be an election ploy intended to garner immediate attention. Additionally, lawmakers have raised concerns about the lack of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the Muslim community.
Addressing these concerns, Home Minister Amit Shah stated in the Lok Sabha, “Some individuals on social media argue against supporting this bill due to the absence of OBC and Muslim reservations. However, not supporting this bill will not expedite reservations. By supporting this bill, we can at least ensure…”
No specific timeline has been provided for the census and delimitation exercise, which, in turn, impacts the commencement of women’s reservation. Minister Amit Shah assured the Lok Sabha that these processes would be conducted shortly after the elections, granting women a more substantial voice in the Parliament.
The Women’s Reservation Bill that seeks to provide a 33 percent quota for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies was introduced in the Lok Sabha yesterday in the ongoing special session of Parliament and was taken up for discussion today. The Union Cabinet on Monday approved the Women Reservation Bill.
The opposition parties including the Congress demanded immediate implementation of the bill. They also demanded an OBC reservation in the bill.
On Tuesday, Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal introduced the bill in the first sitting of Lok Sabha in the new Parliament building. In 2008, the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government tabled the Bill in the Rajya Sabha, and it was passed in 2010. However, the Bill was never taken up for consideration in Lok Sabha.