Women’s Reservation Bill: Rajya Sabha Passes Constitution Amendment Unanimously

The Rajya Sabha on Thursday unanimously passed the Women’s Reservation Bill proposing to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha.

The bill was was introduced in the Rajya Sabha for discussion on Thursday.

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eight Amendment) Bill 2023 was introduced by Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal in the upper house today.

On the fourth day of the special Parliament session, the proposed constitutional amendment was cleared, with all 214 Rajya Sabha members present voting in favour of it, with no abstentions.

The Lok Sabha in the ongoing special session of the Parliament passed the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023 on Wednesday.

Following an eight-hour debate involving 60 members, the Lower House passed the Bill with 454 members voting in favour and only two against it.

Discussions over Women’s Reservation Bill lasts 12 hours in Rajya Sabha

The discussion in the house commenced at around 11:16 am and it went on uninterruptedly for over 12 hours. The bill was formally declared as passed at 11:30 pm.

The Opposition leaders in the Rajya Sabha, echoed the sentiments of their counterparts in the lower house, broadly supporting women’s reservation.

Members questioned the government over its ‘delay’ in introducing this bill despite the Bharatiya Janata Party’s absolute majority in the Parliament.

The opposition parties again raised demands for the women’s reservation bill to be implemented immediately.

Another issue flagged by several members was the non-inclusion of women belonging to other backward classes (OBC) in the provision for horizontal reservation. Several members also demanded that a certain proportion of seats within the women’s quota be reserved for women.

Several members also demanded that a certain proportion of seats within the women’s quota be reserved for women from minority communities.

Majority Government Made It Possible: PM Modi On Women’s Reservation Bill

PM Modi, who was present in the Rajya Sabha, sent in his congratulatoins after the bill cleared the Rajya Sabha hurdle and called it a ‘defining moment’ in India’s history.

‘A defining moment in our nation’s democratic journey! Congratulations to 140 crore Indians. I thank all the Rajya Sabha MPs who voted for the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam. Such unanimous support is indeed gladdening,’ PM Modi tweeted.

Pitching for a ‘strong government with majority,’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said that’s what made the approval for the long-pending women’s reservation bill possible. It proves that a majority government was required to take the country forward, he said.

Addressing an event organised by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Mahila Morcha to felicitate him for the passage of the women’s reservation bill in Parliament, he asserted it was no ordinary legislation, but an announcement of a new India’s new democratic commitment.

“It is our privilege that the chance to script history was given to us by crores of Indians. The event (women’s quota bill) will be discussed for generations…Some decisions can change the course of a country’s future. The successful passage of the bill is one such decision,” he said.

Why did 2 MPs in the Lok Sabha vote against the Bill and who were they?

Asaduddin Owaisi and Imtiaz Jaleel have voted against the Bill as All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) opposed the Bill saying that it does not provide for a sub-quota for Muslim and Other Backward Classes (OBC) women.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the Lok Sabha during the voting on this historic bill, marking the first legislation passed in the new Parliament building.

‘Who are you giving representation to? Those who don’t have representation should be given representation. The major flaw in this bill is that there is no quota for women from Muslim and OBC communities, so we are against it,’ Mr Owaisi told news agency ANI.

‘You are making a bill so that there is representation of the underrepresented. Till now, 17 Lok Sabha elections have taken place in which 8,992 MPs have been elected. Out of these, only 520 were Muslims and in this not even a handful were women. There is a deficit of 50%,’ he added.

Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi spoke first on the debate on Wednesday, by advocating for the inclusion of OBC women under the proposed law while extending the Congress.’

She said that any delay in implementing the reservation would constitute a ‘grave injustice’ to women.

Voting and successful passage in Lok Sabha

The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill of 2023 received approval following a reply to the motion by Union law minister Arjun Ram Meghwal.

Each clause of the bill also underwent voting, and Speaker Om Birla announced the successful passage of the bill.

This landmark legislation, known as the ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam,’ marks the first Bill passed by the Lok Sabha after it relocated to the new Parliament building on Tuesday.

‘Why can’t the bill be implemented in 2024’: NCP Rajya Sabha MP questions BJP on Women’s Reservation Bill

‘Didn’t you do demonetisation overnight? Didn’t you declare a lockdown with almost immediate effect? Didn’t you abrogate article 370 without any notice? You are indeed a very capable government. Then why are you taking so long? Why can’t the bill be implemented 2024?,’ NCP’s Vandana Chavan said on the Women’s Reservation bill in Rajya Sabha. 

‘A bill with conditions’: Congress MP in Rajya Sabha on Women’s Reservation Bill

‘You have brought a bill with conditions. You do not want women to get empowerment, you don’t want women to sit at the table. Delimitation and census — what have you been doing for the past nine years? You have only been doing lip service,’ said Dr Amee Yajnik from the Congress, in the Rajya Sabha. 

‘No political gains, aiming for empowerment,’ says Nadda on women’s quota bill

Speaking about women’s reservation in legislation, BJP President and Rajya Sabha MP JP Nadda emphasised, ‘I want to clarify that the Bharatiya Janata Party is not pursuing political gain but rather aims to empower women.’

The discussion on the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023, commenced during the special five-day Parliament session on Thursday.

Despite being a crucial step towards gender parity and inclusive governance, the bill has remained in legislative limbo for far too long.

This marks the seventh attempt, dating back to 1996, to pass it.

What’s next for Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam bill?

Passed in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the bill will now go to the President for consent. And then 33% reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state assemblies will become an official law.

The five-day special session of Parliament was called by the government last month taking the opposition by surprise. The Special Session of Parliament will end on Friday.