On 19th September 2023 (Tuesday), the Central Government introduced the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam 2023,’ also known as the Women Reservation Bill, in the Lok Sabha. This bill aims to ensure a 33% quota for women in both the Lok Sabha and state Assemblies. Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal introduced it as the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill, making it the first bill to be presented in the new Parliament building. The key provision of the bill is the reservation of one-third of Lok Sabha seats for women, promoting better representation of women in the national legislature.
The proposed legislation also includes a provision for the rotation of reserved seats for women in the Lok Sabha, state Assemblies, and the Delhi Assembly following delimitation exercises conducted by Parliament. This reservation extends to the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi as well. Additionally, one-third of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes in the Delhi Assembly will also be reserved for women. The same applies to legislative Assemblies in all Indian states, where one-third of seats under the relevant clause will be reserved for women, including those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The bill specifies that these provisions regarding seat reservation for women will come into effect after a delimitation exercise is conducted, following the publication of relevant census data. These provisions will be in effect for fifteen years from the commencement of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Act, 2023.
During the discussion on the bill, there was a disagreement between the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, and members of the treasury benches. Chowdhury claimed that the bill, which was originally introduced during Manmohan Singh’s tenure and passed in the Rajya Sabha, was still active. However, Home Minister Amit Shah disputed this claim, stating that the bill lapsed with the 15th Lok Sabha. After introducing the bill, Speaker Om Birla adjourned the House for the day.