Delhi HC junks PIL seeking urgent implementation of women’s quota Bill

Bench says issue pending in Supreme Court and hence cannot be heard in two courts simultaneously

December 19, 2023 01:27 am | Updated 01:27 am IST - New Delhi

The petitioner had filed the PIL days after the High Court turned down her earlier plea on the same issue.

The petitioner had filed the PIL days after the High Court turned down her earlier plea on the same issue. | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

The Delhi High Court on Monday declined to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking urgent and time-bound implementation of the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023 to ensure 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha as early as next year.

The PIL had been filed by Yogamaya M.G., a practising lawyer, days after the High Court turned down her earlier plea on the same issue and observed that she had “no personal interest” in the matter.

During Monday’s hearing, a Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna said the issue was already pending before the Supreme Court and the enactment itself provided a mechanism and procedure for its implementation.

“Matter is pending in the Supreme Court. Two courts cannot simultaneously do (hear) it...There is a process in the Act (that) it shall come into force after delimitation. You have to challenge it,” it added.

Cleared in September by Parliament, the Bill — officially known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill — aims to ensure fair representation by reserving one-third of seats in Lok Sabha, State Legislative Assemblies, and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi for women.

The PIL, filed through advocate Nandana Menon, stated that the Women’s Reservation Bill, initially introduced in 2008 as the Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, faced multiple unsuccessful attempts due to insufficient support and minority votes in subsequent years.

Despite the unanimous passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023, there has been a significant delay in its implementation, it added. “While there has been progress since independence, as of February 2023, India ranks 141 globally, with only 15.1% women in the Lower and 13.8% in the Upper Houses.”

It said that women’s participation in politics is influenced by various factors, such as social norms, cultural barriers, patriarchal attitudes, lack of education, economic dependence, violence and discrimination. “Women also face challenges in accessing political resources, such as funding, media, and networks,” the PIL added.

The petitioner said that for a democracy to truly reflect its society, it is crucial that the Parliament is diverse, including a substantial representation of women. This diversity ensures a broader spectrum of perspectives, experiences, and ideas, leading to more effective policymaking, she stated.

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