One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment Bill

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    Syllabus: GS1/ Social Empowerment

    In News

    • Lok Sabha passes  Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 granting 33% seats to women in LS & state legislative assemblies
      • The Bill is referred to as the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam.

    About the Bill Highlights

    • Representation of women in India’s legislatures: The Bill noted that though women participate substantially in Panchayati raj institutions and municipal bodies, their representation in the State legislatures and in Parliament is still limited.
      • Women MPs constitute a mere 15% of the Lok Sabha, and only account for about 10% of members in many State Assemblies.
    • Reservation to women: The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 to provide 33 percent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies.
      • According to The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill 2023, “as nearly as maybe, one-third (including the seats reserved for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election to the House of People shall be reserved for women”.
      • The Bill proposes a similar provision for Assemblies in the states and Delhi.
    • Introduction of Articles: It  proposes to introduce new articles — 330A and 332A — in the Constitution.
      • These new provisions will introduce the changes for Lok Sabha and Assemblies respectively.
    • Need of Delimitation exercise:The Bill makes the implementation of women’s reservation contingent upon the delimitation process.
    • Sunset clause: The bill also has a sunset clause, mandating that the reservation will be for a period of 15 years from the date of commencement of the Act.

    Previous Attempts

    • Attempts to create a quota for women have been ongoing since the mid-1990s. 
    • In March 2010, Rajya Sabha passed The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008, but the legislation was not taken up by Lok Sabha. 
    Reservation for Women in Panchayati Raj institutions and Urban Local Bodies
    Constitutional provisions: Article 243D of the Constitution provides for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and women in Panchayats.
    1. As per the provisions of Article 243D, not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved for SCs and STs shall be reserved for women.
    Women representatives in PRIs: According to government data, in at least 18 states, the percentage of women elected representatives in Panchayati Raj institutions was more than 50 percent
    – Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Kerala, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Manipur, Telangana, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh.
    – The highest proportion of women representatives was in Uttarakhand (56.02 percent) and the lowest was in Uttar Pradesh (33.34 percent). 
    – Overall, there are 45.61 percent women representatives in Panchayati Raj institutions in the country.

    Challenges

    • Delimitation process & delay: The upshot of these conditions is that women’s reservation may not effectively be operationalised in Lok Sabha before the general elections of 2029.
      • The 42nd Amendment froze the delimitation exercise until the results of the first Census after 2000 was published. In 2001, this was further extended for 25 years. And now, delimitation would happen after the results of the first Census after 2026 is published.
    • Need of specifications: The Bill states that one-third of the seats in Parliament and state Assemblies will be reserved for women. However, it doesn’t specify how these seats will be identified.
    How are the Seats that are Reserved for SCs and STs Decided Currently?
    – The Delimitation Act, of 2002 lays down broad principles for reserving seats. 
    – The Delimitation Commission appointed under the Act is responsible for deciding the number of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies to be reserved based on the population.
    • Need of enactment of a law: This proposed constitution amendment is enabling in nature. In other words, it will grant the government the power to enact a law for its implementation.
      • Hence, it is expected that the determination of seats will be addressed by a separate law that the government will introduce.
    Constitutional amendments needed to operationalise the scheme of women’s reservation
    – For delimitation — which is a precondition for the implementation of reservation — Articles 82 and 170(3) of the Constitution would have to be amended.
    Article 82 provides for the readjustment of constituencies (number and boundaries) of both Lok Sabha and state Assemblies after every Census. Article 170(3) deals with composition of the Legislative Assemblies.
    • Politics as men’s profession: Politics is often seen as a male bastion, and women are discouraged from entering it on the pretext that it is not a ‘feminine’ profession.
      • Female candidates were often made to contest in elections as “namesakes” for their husbands.
    • Infrastructural barriers: Young women face severe infrastructural barriers to entering politics.
      • This includes a lack of clean toilets and safe accommodation during fieldwork.

    Way Ahead

    • As India strives to become a Vishwa Guru, we must not overlook the pivotal role women can play in nation building and development. 

    Source: IE