What are the provisions of proposed women reservation bill? What are the hitches in its passage? Discuss.

108th constitutional amendment Bill, which is commonly known as the Women’s Reservation Bill, seeks to provide reservation for women in the house of people and state legislative assemblies.
Provisions of the bill

  • Reservation of 1/3 of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies.
  • Along with that 1/3 of total seats reserved for SC &ST shall be reserved for women of these groups in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies.
  • An authority, specified by Parliament, will determine the allocation of reserved seats, along with that reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies.
  • Also, the provisions of seat reservation for women shall cease to exist after 15 years of commencement of this amendment.

Issues in passage

  • Because of the divergent views of political parties on the reservation policy, the bill has not been passed. One of the arguments against the bill is that such provisions will perpetuate the unequal status of women as due to reservation they would not be perceived to be competing on merit.
  • Along with that, the opponents of the reservation argue that seat reservation restricts voters choice to women candidates.
  • Another argument is that rotation of reserved constituencies after every election will reduce the incentive for the legislator to work for the particular constituency as in next election candidate may be ineligible to seek re-election(due to reservation policy) from that constituency.
  • The patriarchal attitude of political parties is another reason behind non-passage of the bill. In fact, some opponents also contend that reservation policy diverts attention from the issues of electoral reform such as the criminalization of politics and inner party democracy.

India ranks well below the global average when it comes to women’s representation in elected legislatures. Participation of women has a direct bearing on priorities, policies, and legislation. Therefore political parties need to find a common ground regarding women reservation. However much before that, the inner party democracy is important and political parties should nominate more women candidates. That will be the more pragmatic way to raise women’s representation in elected legislatures.


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