In a significant development, President Droupadi Murmu gave her assent to the women's reservation bill which seeks to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies. According to a notification issued by the law ministry on Friday, the president gave her assent on Thursday. Now, it will be officially known as the Constitution (106th Amendment) Act. According to its provision, "It shall come into force on such date as the central government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint."
During a special session of Parliament earlier this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had described the law as "Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam". The law will take some time before being implemented as the next census and the subsequent delimitation exercise - redrawing of Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies - will ascertain the particular seats being earmarked for women.
The quota for women in the Lok Sabha and assemblies will continue for 15 years and Parliament can later extend the benefit period. While there is quota within quota for Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) women, the opposition had demanded that the benefit be extended to Other Backward Classes.
There have been several efforts to pass the bill in Parliament since 1996. The last such attempt was made in 2010, when the Rajya Sabha had passed a bill for women's reservation, but the same could not be passed in the Lok Sabha.
Data shows that women MPs account for nearly 15 per cent of the Lok Sabha strength while their representation is below 10 per cent in many state assemblies.
Earlier on Thursday, Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar signed the bill as passed by Parliament before it was presented to Murmu for her assent. "Hon'ble Chairman, Rajya Sabha has signed the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Bill, 2023 as passed by the Houses of Parliament, for being presented to Hon'ble President of India for her assent to the Bill under Article 111 of the Constitution of India," the Vice President Secretariat said in a post on X on Thursday. It also shared a picture of Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal receiving the signed copy of the bill from Dhankhar.