Long legislative and other processes required to make Women's Reservation Bill a reality

‘Just like the delimitation process... a panel will take two to two-and-a-half years from now'

‘The reservation would be in place definitely before the next Lok Sabha elections due in 2014'

New Delhi: It will be more than two years after the Women's Reservation Bill is passed in Lok Sabha for it to be implemented because of the long subsequent legislative and other processes associated with it.

“It will take a minimum of two years. Just like the delimitation process... a commission or a committee it will take two to two-and-a-half years from now. The process is such,” Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily told PTI.

However, he expressed confidence that the reservation of seats and the identification of 181 of the 543 seats for women in the Lok Sabha would be in place “definitely” before the next Lok Sabha elections due in 2014.

Apart from reserving seats in the Lok Sabha, the Constitution Amendment Bill, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, seeks to provide reservation for women in 1,370 out of a total of 4,109 seats in 28 Assemblies.

The principle of reservation of seats for women will also apply to seats reserved for the SC/ST candidates.

The Bill provides for rotation of seats reserved for women every Lok Sabha at the end of the term.

Explaining the process, Mr. Moily said that once the Lok Sabha passed the Bill and the President signed it, it would be sent to all the States for ratification.

At least 14 of the 28 States would have to ratify the legislation for it to become a law. This process, Mr. Moily said, might take about nine months.

Once the States ratified the Bill, Mr. Moily said, the government would have to enact an ordinary legislation — something on the lines of a delimitation law for charting the roadmap of how to go about the process.

The Election Commission would be brought into the picture, and a commission constituted to go about the job of drawing the parameters for delineating the constituencies and earmarking them for women. Like in the case of the SCs and the STs, the population of a particular constituency and the component of women in it could be factors that would determine the identification the constituency for women.

On the parameters, Mr. Moily refused to hazard a guess saying that it was for the Election Commission and the prospective commission that would delve on it.

The Minister rejected criticism against the Bill that it will create instability in the reserved constituencies because it would be rotated after every election.

He said the instability would be for the candidate but the party would take care of and nurture the constituency in its own interest.

The rotation principle is in the interest of horizontal representation for women in all the parliamentary constituencies in the 15 years the law would be in force.

To a question whether parties would come under pressure not to give seats for women outside the reserved constituencies, Mr. Moily said it is not necessary. It may depend on the winnability factor, he felt.

Mr. Moily dismissed criticism by opponents of the Bill like Mulayam Singh and Lalu Prasad that the measure in its present form would only enable women from upper castes and elite society to become MPs and MLAs.

‘An excuse'

“Who prevents them from fielding women candidates from Muslim community and OBCs and get them elected. This is just an excuse,” he said.

Praising the historic reasons for the Bill, the senior Congress leader said that in 62 years of independent India, representation of women in Parliament was only 11. 2 per cent, which is below the world average of 19 per cent.

He said there is reservation for women in at least 50 countries in the world which are under categories: reservation by constitution, reservation by mandating parties and voluntary reservation by parties. “Because the last two factors failed, we had to adopt constitutional reservation,” Mr. Moily said.

The level of women's participation in Parliament in South Africa was 44.5 per cent (voluntary), in Germany 32.8 per cent (voluntary), 36.6 per cent in Spain (mandated), 33.2 per cent in Nepal and 18 per cent in Bangladesh.

About the capacity of women to legislate, he said women have been legislators in India from Vedic times. They were called “Brahmavadins” who can talk on laws. “Only now it has come to present plight,” he said. — PTI