Expansion of women’s quota among agenda in winter session
The winter session, scheduled for December 4-21, is the last opportunity for the government to pass legislation before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The Narendra Modi government plans to expand reservation for women in legislative bodies to cover J&K and Puducherry assemblies and has listed two new bills for this purpose in the upcoming winter session of Parliament, people aware of the matter said on Wednesday.
The government also plans to pass the three criminal codes during the session. The list of government business, published in a parliamentary bulletin on Wednesday, mentions The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that “seeks to provide reservation of 1/3 of the total number of seats for women in the Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir”. Another bill, The Government of Union Territories (Amendment) Bill, 2023 has been listed to “insert provisions for providing reservation to women in the Legislative Assembly of the Puducherry”.
The winter session, which is effectively the last window for the government to clear legislation before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, will be held between December 4 and 21.
The government has also listed the three criminal codes-- The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023, The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 the The Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023—for passage during the truncated session. The winter session usually starts from the second or third week of November.
The move to introduce women’s reservation in Puducherry and J&K assemblies comes after both Houses of Parliament overwhelmingly supported the bill to give 33% quota for women in the Lok Sabha, the state assemblies and the NCT of Delhi. J&K and Puducherry are the other two Union Territories apart from Delhi to have assemblies.
A senior government official said that it was possibly an omission to exclude J&K and Puducherry in the earlier legislation. “These two assemblies should also have women reservation to avoid any discrepancy,” he said.
Parliamentary expert Ravindra Garimela added that “possibly the government was in a hurry and they reintroduced the 2008 bill which included only one UT. Now, the government wants to expand the scope of the reservation and bring the two other assemblies under the purview of the bill”.
Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi told HT: “In substance, all these initiatives remain cosmetic. Firstly, what is the use of creating an empty structure by law, when actually no reservation has been applied. We are now talking about women reservation in J&K assembly whereas the government is not doing anything to restore the original statehood despite repeated assurance to the Supreme Court.”
The government plans to introduce 7 new bills and also push The Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023. A total of 18 bills including 11 pending legislations have been included in the list of government business for the session.
The home affairs committee of Parliament has adopted its report despite furious protests by Opposition MPs on the three criminal codes, paving the way for the passage of the bills in the upcoming session.
The Opposition is set to express reservation on bringing some provisions of UAPA and other anti-terror laws in the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita (BNS) and also object to additional power to magistrates to order finger impressions and voice samples from a person who has not been arrested.
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