Explainer: Women’s Reservation Bill

The Union government Tuesday introduced the 128th Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2023, to bring in 33% reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and all state Legislative Assemblies. This will include reserving one-third of the seats kept for SC/STs, and “as nearly as possible”, one-third of the total seats in the general category.

The law may come into force only by 2029.

According to the Bill, the seats will be reserved after the completion of the delimitation exercise based on the first Census conducted after the passage of the Bill.

The next Census is likely in 2027. The Census was meant to be held last in 2021, but was delayed because of COVID.

The Bill mandates women’s reservation for 15 years from the commencement of the Act, with Parliament empowered to extend it further.

The six-page Bill says that the quota will not apply to Rajya Sabha or state Legislative Councils.

The Bill does not include reservation for OBCs (Other Backward Classes), as such a provision does not exist for the legislature. This was the demand over which parties like the Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and AIMIM opposed the women’s quota Bill for decades.