Dashing the hopes of women and all other sections who espoused the cause, the Women’s Reservation Bill has lapsed. After being passed in the Rajya Sabha in 2010, the Bill, which provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies, was sent to the Lok Sabha for approval, but did not see the light of the day for lack of political consensus and will.
Ironically it was just on Tuesday that Congress president Sonia Gandhi made a pitch for the passage of the Women’s (Constitution 108th Amendment) Bill. Speaking at a function in Thiruvananthapuram, Ms. Gandhi said that the UPA would mount pressure on the NDA to pass the Bill in Parliament “to honour its commitment to women”.
And now, under Article 107 (5) of the Constitution, it is amongst the 68 government Bills that have lapsed on the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha. If the new government wants to give reservation to women, it will have to come up with a fresh legislation just as it did in the case of the judicial appointments Bill.
The Hindu has learnt that besides the Women’s Bill, the crucial Bills that have lapsed include the Constitutional 117th Amendment Bill providing Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes reservation in government job promotions; the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2012; the Direct Taxes Code Bill, 2010; the Coal Regulatory Authority Bill, 2013; the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill, 2013; and the Rights of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redress of their Grievances Bill, 2011, among others.
Article 107 (5) of the Constitution states: A Bill which is pending in the House of People or which having being passed by the House of the People is pending in the Council of States shall, subject to provisions of Article 108 (joint sitting of both the Houses), lapse on a dissolution of the House of People.
The Bill was approved in the Rajya Sabha after unprecedented pandemonium leaving the Chairman with no option but to suspend seven members of the RJD and the Samajwadi Party who were adamant on stalling it at any cost. It would now be an uphill task for the NDA to take up the initiative particularly as it is woefully short of majority in the Rajya Sabha for passage of a controversial constitutional amendment Bill.