The bill grants 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.
Photo : ANI
New Delhi: The historic Women's Reservation Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha by an overwhelming majority, now awaits approval of the Rajya Sabha to come into force. The bill grants 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies. However, even if it clears the Rajya Sabha test, the proposed legislation would come into effect only after the exercise of the next delimitation.
Since delimitation cannot be conducted without the latest data on the population of the country, the proposed legislation cannot be implemented at least till the end of 2026 - the year after which the next census is to be carried out.
The text of the women's reservation bill states, "Notwithstanding anything in the foregoing provision of this Part or Part VIII, the provisions of the Constitution relating to the reservation of seats for women in the House of the People, the Legislative Assembly of a State and the Legislative Assembly of the National Capital Territory of Delhi shall come into effect after an exercise of delimitation is undertaken for this purpose after the relevant figures for the first census taken after commencement of the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-eighth Amendment) Act, 2023 have been published and shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of fifteen years from such commencement."
A Supreme Court Case
In the case of Rajesh Kumar Daria v. Rajasthan Public Service Commission and Ors, a three judge bench of the SC explained the difference between horizontal and vertical reservation. It was stated that special reservations in favour of those who are physically handicapped, women, etc., under Art. 16(1) or 15(3) are horizontal reservations whereas a vertical reservation is made in favour of a backward class under Art. 16(4). Sources said upon a reading of the same judgment, it is apparent that the issue of reservation in Parliament is one which is horizontal (for women) as well as vertical (SC/ST). "In this regard, it would be prudent to first carry out the delimitation and then implement the reservation," sources said.
"It would be incorrect to term women reservation as merely a horizontal type of reservation. This is because reservation for SCST exists in the Lok Sabha ( with around 120 seats being reserved for SCST). This will create an overlap as the women’s reservation will also touch upon the reservation granted to SCST, the source said.
The government feels that if we implement the reservation post the delimitation, it will ensure that this issue of ‘overlap’ is suitably dealt with without creating any legal tussles which may derail the process of women reservation altogether. "Moreover, it will ensure that women get greater number of seats and are adequately represented in lacking constituencies as per the census," the source added.
What Is Delimitation?
Delimitation refers to the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries
of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body. Given the fact that a state's population decides the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha, delimitation is carried out taking into account the data gathered during a prior census.
Who Carries Out Delimitation?
The job of delimitation is assigned to a high power body. Such a body is known as Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission, which is appointed by the Central government in accordance with the latest Delimitation Act passed by the Parliament on the basis of the data gathered during the recent census.
Powers Of Delimitation Commission
Delimitation Commission is an all-powerful independent body whose orders cannot be challenged before any court of law. The copies of its orders are laid before Parliament and the concerned state Assembly. However, no modifications are permissible therein by the members of the said legislative body.
Present Constituencies were carved out in 2002
The present constituencies were carved out in 2002 on the basis of 2001 census data. These constituencies will continue to be in their present form till the first census after 2026, the Election Commission has said.
Delimitation Carried Out 4 Times In India
Delimitation has been carried out in India four times in the past - in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under the Delimitation Act, 1972 and in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
Delimitation In Assam and Jammu & Kashmir
Currently, delimitation is being carried out in the state of Assam. The Election Commission announced in December that it was starting the implementation of delimitation in Assam. The delimitation exercise in J&K was completed last year by the Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission. A three-member Delimitation Commission, chaired by retired Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, was formed for the delimitation of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir - a break from practice as it is the Election Commission which sets up the Commission.