New Delhi: In a significant development, the long-pending Women’s Reservation Bill is on the brink of becoming law, marking the end of nearly three decades of delays and disputes. However, the bill’s promised 33 percent quota for women in parliament and state legislatures may not come into effect until 2029, as revealed by exclusive details obtained by NDTV.
This quota will only be put into practice following the first delimitation or the redrawing of constituencies after the bill is enacted. This process of redrawing constituencies will occur after the upcoming Census, which is expected to take place in 2027. It’s worth noting that the Census, originally scheduled for 2021, was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The bill outlines several key provisions, including a reservation of one-third of seats in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women. Notably, these reserved seats will be subject to rotation after each delimitation exercise, which redraws constituencies.
Within this overall quota, one-third of the seats are earmarked for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). However, the bill does not include provisions for Other Backward Classes (OBCs), a contentious point that has been a subject of debate and opposition over the years.
This legislation closely resembles the Women’s Reservation Bill drafted in 2010, with a few amendments, mainly the removal of quota provisions for the Anglo-Indian community. Effective implementation of the bill is contingent upon the redrawing of constituencies following the first Census conducted after the bill’s enactment.
The bill’s duration is set at 15 years, but it leaves room for potential extensions through legal amendments. Reserved seats for women will continue until such time as the Parliament decides otherwise through legislation. The primary objective of this bill is to promote greater participation of women in policymaking at both the state and national levels.
Overall, this legislation represents a significant step forward in addressing the issue of gender underrepresentation in Indian politics, where women currently make up only 14 percent of parliamentary and legislative positions, well below the global average.