Women quota Bill approved by Cabinet

The Women’s Reservation Bill, which allocates a 33% quota to women in the Lok Sabha and state Legislative Assemblies, was approved by the Union Cabinet, which was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The government, however, did not make an announcement regarding it as the customary briefing after the Cabinet meeting was not held. The Cabinet meeting had evinced political interest as Modi had stated today that “historic decisions” would be taken in the special session of Parliament from September 18 to 22.

Earlier in the day, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi met Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief JP Nadda, making it clear that something “path-breaking” was expected.

The Women’s Reservation Bill was first tabled in 2008 and has been on freeze since it was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010. It was not presented in the Lok Sabha in these 13 years. A Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha does not lapse under rules of the business of Parliament. The BJP and the Congress have always supported the Bill, but there were hurdles in the form of opposition by other parties and demand for quota for Backward Classes within the women’s quota.

One-third of the seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will be reserved for women from those groups. These reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory.

In the present Lok Sabha, 78 women members were elected which account for less than 15 per cent of the total strength of 543. In Rajya Sabha too, women’s representation is about 14 per cent, according to the data shared by the government with Parliament last December.

Ahead of the Parliament session, leaders from the Opposition had pushed for the Women’s Reservation Bill. The parties had made a strong push for it at an all-party meeting held on Sunday.

Since the announcement of the special session of Parliament, opposition parties, political observers and citizens were wondering whether the government was planning some big decisions.

It was being felt that the Uniform Civil Code (UCC) or “one nation, one election” could be on the agenda. The buzz around the use of “Bharat” in the President’s dinner invite to G20 delegates had sparked talk about the government planning to bring a resolution to change the name of the country.

The government has already listed crucial Bills to be discussed during the special session of Parliament. These include the contentious Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023. The other listed business for the Lok Sabha includes