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Women Reservation Bill: Petition filed in Supreme Court seeking reintroduction of bill

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Supreme Court has received a petition seeking reintroduction of Women’s Reservation Bill which will provide 33 percent reservation for the women in the parliament and State legislatures.

A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice  JK Maheshwari said that it is a pertinent matter and has ordered the petitioner to serve a copy of the same to the Central government. The bench has also posted the case for further consideration in the week commencing on September 26.

The Women’s reservation bill also known as the One Hundred & Eighth Amendment Bill, 2008 contemplated reservation of 33% seats in the Lok Sabha and all State Legislative Assemblies for women.

The draft bill provided for women’s reservation on a rotation basis to be determined by draw of lots, in such a way that a seat would be reserved only once in three consecutive general elections. It further provided that reservation of seats for women would cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of the amendment Act.

Over 25 years ago, in the year 1996, the Bill was introduced in the Lower house and was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 as the Constitution (One Hundred & Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008 before lapsing in 2014 after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.

The petition was filed before the Apex Court by the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) through advocate Prashant Bhushan stating that the action by the respondent in not placing the beneficial legislation before the Lok Sabha.

The plea states “It is submitted that the Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010 and has been crystallized so as to its aims and objectives to a large extent. In view thereof it is submitted that non introduction of such an important and beneficial Bill, on which there is a virtual consensus of all major political parties, is arbitrary.”

The petition states that even when half the population comprises of women, their participation in parliament was a pitiful 14%, and it urged for strong affirmative action to be made to improve the condition of women.

The petition said that low involvement of women in parliament had a direct influence on the priorities and assumptions of policies and laws and that including more women in decision-making processes would result in a qualitative shift in governance.

The petition also talks about the patriarchal mindset, which has led to oppression of women, denying them equal rights. .

The bill stated that the change can only be brought if women are placed in positions of authority through concrete measures such as including more women in the parliament.

The plea also talks about the promise that was made by the BJP Government in its manifestos for 2014 as well as 2019.

The petitions contends “However, despite repeated promises no action has been forthcoming in regard with the passing of the Women’s Reservation Bill even though the BJP has a majority in the Lok Sabha. The Bill has been supported on record by the Congress party which is the main Opposition party.”

The petition apprises that the Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju in question session stated that serious analysis based consensus is needed among all political parties before a Bill to modify the Constitution is introduced in Parliament.

The plea adds that many parties including BJP like INC, AIADMK, DMK, Shiromani Akali Dal, CPI(M), Biju Janata Dal, Samajwadi Party, and NCP included the promise of passing the Women’s Reservation Bill during elections.

Despite many parties having strong hold, nothing has been initiated.

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