Published on: 22 September 2023 at 00:28 IST
In a momentous development, the Rajya Sabha, on Thursday, (21 September 2023) unanimously passed the Constitution One Hundred and Twenty-eight Amendment Bill 2023, which proposes to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha, state legislatures, and the Delhi legislative assembly.
This historic constitutional amendment, introduced by Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal in the upper house, follows its successful passage in the Lok Sabha, where it received overwhelming support with 454 members in favor and only 2 opposing it.
On the fourth day of the special Parliament session, the proposed constitutional amendment was given the green light, with all 214 Rajya Sabha members present casting their votes in favor of the bill. Astonishingly, not a single member voted against it, and there were no abstentions.
The key provision of the Constitution Amendment Bill is
- The Constitution Amendment Bill’s centerpiece provision is the introduction of a 33 percent reservation for women in the Lower House of Parliament, state legislatures, and the Delhi legislative assembly.
- This reservation policy, however, will only be enforced after a delimitation exercise is carried out following the first census subsequent to the bill’s enactment.
The rigorous debate in the Rajya Sabha commenced at approximately 11:16 AM, extending uninterruptedly for over 12 hours, culminating in the bill’s formal passage at 11:30 PM.
While the women’s reservation garnered broad support from opposition leaders, concerns were raised regarding the clause deferring its implementation. Questions were posed about the government’s delay in introducing the bill, despite its electoral promise.
Opposition members advocated for the immediate execution of the women’s reservation bill, urging its implementation without the prerequisite of conducting a census and delimitation exercise.
Furthermore, several parliamentarians pressed for the inclusion of women from other backward classes (OBC) in the horizontal reservation provision. They also proposed the reservation of a specific portion of seats within the women’s quota for women from minority communities.
This legislative milestone holds immense significance, especially considering that the last bill aimed at reserving seats for women in the Lower House, state legislatures, and the Delhi legislative assembly was introduced over a decade ago.
The 2008 bill proposed substantial amendments to various constitutional provisions and introduced new articles. Unfortunately, it lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha (2009-14).
The 2023 bill represents a resolute commitment to gender equality and enhanced representation in India’s legislative bodies. Its successful passage in both houses of Parliament signifies a monumental step forward for the nation, emphasizing the evolving dynamics of Indian democracy.