The Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi has approved the Women's Reservation Bill in a key meeting at the Parliament House Annexe in New Delhi on Monday, 18 September. This paves the way for the much-demanded legislation to be tabled in Parliament during the ongoing five-day Special Session.
While participating in a discussion on the first day of the Special Session, several Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs had demanded that the Women's Reservation Bill be tabled and passed into law.
Out of the sanctioned strength of 543 in the Lok Sabha, only 82 MPs are women. In the Rajya Sabha, a mere 31 of the 245 seats belong to women, according to the official websites of both Houses.
What Is the Women's Reservation Bill?
More commonly referred to as the Women’s Reservation Bill, the Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008, had proposed the following:
One-third of all seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies will be reserved for women.
The allocation of these prescribed seats will be done by an authority prescribed by the Parliament.
From within the seats reserved for women, one-third will be reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Reserved seats will be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the Lok Sabha or the assemblies of the state/union territory.
This 33 percent reservation will cease to exist after fifteen years of the commencement of the law.
Said to be one of the longest-pending legislations in Parliament, the Women's Reservation Bill was a key poll promise in the BJP's 2014 and 2019 election manifestos.
What are the arguments for and against the bill? Read more here.
Soon after reports of the Cabinet decision emerged, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted, "It’s been a long-standing demand of the Congress party to implement women’s reservation. We welcome the reported decision of the Union Cabinet and await the details of the Bill."
"This could have very well been discussed in the all-party meeting before the Special Session, and consensus could have been built instead of operating under a veil of secrecy," he added.
Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule, during the special session of the Parliament earlier in the day, said: "Most women MPs have been asking about the Women's Reservation Bill. Everyone sitting here has been concerned about it."
Many others like LJP MP Chirag Paswan had also voiced support on Monday for the Women's Reservation Bill to be passed in the Special Session.
Meanwhile, news agency PTI reported that former PM Manmohan Singh, former Jharkhand CM Shibu Soren, and Lok Sabha MP Maneka Gandhi were invited to speak in Central Hall of Parliament on Tuesday.