The ugly truth regarding the Women Reservation Bill

By at 2 April, 2010, 7:34 pm

The Women’s day this year was indeed very special, the parliament passed the Women Reservation Bill with full vigor.

The reservation for women in the political front emerged with the Panchayati Raj Act, 1992 which was passed in Rajeev Gandhi’s tenure. The Act provided for women’s reservation upto 33% in the Panchayats.

Subsequently demands for women’s reservation in Parliament and state legislatures were raised . In 1996, the then Prime Minister H.D. Dewe Gowda promised to fulfill these demands. After almost 13 years; the Women’s Reservation Bill [The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008] was finally passed by Rajya Sabha.

The bill seeks to reserve 33% seats for women in Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. One third of these reserved seats would be allotted to the women belonging to the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. However, there is no separate reservation for women belonging to the Other Backward Classes (O.B.C’s). Further it is provided that the reservation shall cease to exist after 15 years of its commencement .

The Bill is highly criticized on several grounds :-

1. It seeks to reserve 181 out of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha and 1,370 out of a total of 4,109 seats in the 28 State Assemblies for women. It is argued that the number of seats allotted for women reservation is way too high and hence should be reduced.

2. The reserved seats would be allotted by rotation of constituencies. This means that a male legislator would not be allowed to contest from the same constituency again. Thus infringing his democratic rights to contest elections.

3. The choice of people would be restricted to only choose female representatives.

What is the most bothering aspect of the Bill?

I personally feel reservation does no good to the society. The benefits of reservation almost never percolate down to the lower strata of the society. It is widely observed that some families enjoy the perks of reservation from generations to generations. The people with most miserable conditions usually never get the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the legislative action.

I’m afraid that the Reservation Bill would serve purposes other than women empowerment. When Lallu Prasad Yadav was caught in the Chara Ghotala, he had to resign and Rabri Devi (his beloved wife) became the Chief Minister of Bihar. She was more like a puppet in the hands of her husband. Lallu enjoyed power without any responsibility those days. It would come to no surprise, if in the years to come we will witness more of Lallus and Rabris in the Parliament and state legislatures. Believe me it won’t elevate the existing position of the women in any way. The legislators will use women as a ticket to ensure their seats in the parliament.

Not only this the “rotation of reserved constituencies” would act detrimental to the public interest. Most of the elected leaders work for their areas expecting that their work would be rewarded by re-election. But debarring them from contesting elections again, may reduce their interest in working for the public benefit.

“The reservation shall cease to exist with 15 years of the commencement of the amendment” is also a dubious clause. It has been witnessed in past that the reservation of ST’s and SC’s (which was originally meant for 10 years) has been extended each time. The same may be repeated for reservation of women as well.

Reservation is no solution for upliftment of women in the society. Being a woman I know what a woman is truly capable of doing. We had Kiran Bedi, Jhansi Ki Rani, Sarojini Naidu, Vijay Laxmi Pundit and many others without any reservation. I would appreciate the presence of more Vijay Laxmi Pundits than Rabri Devis any day.

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Categories : Legal Mirror | Politics | Social Issues

Comments
arayans April 3, 2010

hi, going by the current tag-line under your blog title, “law…for the layman”, maybe you could also look to explain the law itself as an opening to your post.

just an idea – might attract a new league of readers, who’re genuinely ‘lay’, and look up to a lawyer to actually help them get more aware :)

meghna April 3, 2010

Arayans I’ll definitely keep this in mind next time I write a post.. Thanks for the suggestion :)

arayans April 3, 2010

nocturnal, eh.

and btw, as debates teach us, each story has two sides to it – one way to present your posts could be in the form of a debate between two speakers, who seem to list out a positive, then rebut it and rerebut it, and so on.. might help readers obtain a more wholesome view of the topic.

i know, this’ll surely take a lot of hard work, but i guess, for this to turn into a genuinely awesome resource, it’ll have to come across as unbiased (within the limits your explicit ideological leaning, which again, ought to be clear from the word go), and then we’ll really love linking up-to this space as often as we can :)

cheers :)

meghna April 3, 2010

Ohk I can’t promise but I’ll surely try it out once… may be it ll be a treat to the readers :)

neharika April 3, 2010

true!!!! women don’t need reservation to get uplifted…

meghna April 3, 2010

thanks niharika :)

Ramanuj April 4, 2010

maybe this reservation is needed for men more than the women. a lot of men need to get used to women in the public sphere.

meghna April 5, 2010

I agree that with the changing society, men must get used to the presence of women in the public sphere…

isha April 5, 2010

the bill seeks for the minimal representation of women in the lok sabha and not the maximum which further can be beneficial for any new bill to be taken up for the welfare of women or any matter concerned with women safety and empowerment.It will more over ensure the rationalization of the opinion of the ppl sitting in legislative assemblies and lok sabha.

meghna April 5, 2010

I completely agree Isha, that the women are under-represented in the legislatures and through the bill, the women would be allowed to raise their voices. But the issue that ponders me the most is the independence of such women. Would they be speaking on behalf of their husbands or close relatives or will the exercise the will of their own?

Gyan April 6, 2010

In the end its up to women how they wanna achieve and what they wanna achieve their goals.Whether they want a protection under law or a right under law. Like now a days its all about right and right.

Anyway on the topic, any kind of reservation is not good and gonna harm only in the long run.

Those women who really need upliftment will still be waiting for help and care from we the society of India

meghna April 6, 2010

The concern raised by you is very serious. The legislators must ponder upon on which section do they truly want the effects to be percolated..

ps April 7, 2010

it is quite obvious that the legislators want the weaker section to come up…n that in this case is the “woman”. what is exactly desired is upliftment of women and adequate representation, but this is possible only if they can speak their mind, which brings us to the question…do most women really get the chance to speak their mind ‘independently’, without any fuss or force??

meghna April 7, 2010

I completely agree with you P.S.

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