Delhi HC refuses to entertain PIL for urgent implementation of women’s reservation law

The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to entertain a public interest litigation by a lawyer seeking urgent and time-bound implementation of the women’s reservation law to ensure 33 per cent quota for women in the Lok Sabha elections next year.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan said the issue was already pending before the Supreme Court and the enactment itself provided a mechanism and procedure for its implementation.

“There are two issues. Matter is pending in Supreme Court. Two courts cannot simultaneously do it…There is a process in the Act (that) it shall come into force after delimitation. You have to challenge it,” the bench, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna, told the petitioner’s lawyer.

Officially known as Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, the women’s reservation Act provides for reservation of one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and all state assemblies for women. After presidential assent on September 29, the bill became law.

The law will, however, not be implemented immediately. It will come into force after a new census has been conducted based on which delimitation will be undertaken to reserve seats for women.

The counsel for the petitioner Yogamaya MG told the court that the PIL was in the interest of “entire womanhood” and a solution ought to be arrived at to ensure the implementation of the Women’s Reservation Act before the upcoming general elections.

“Supreme Court is seized of the matter in (petition by) Jaya Thakur. They are considering it,” the court said.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma said the petition was a “publicity litigation” and the process of introducing quota for women in legislature was already engrafted in the Act.

The petitioner withdrew the plea with liberty to approach the Supreme Court.

Yogamaya MG had earlier filed a writ petition which was taken up by a single judge bench of the high court. She later withdrew the petition with liberty to file a PIL.

In her petition before the single judge, she said effective implementation of the reservation law was crucial for enhancing women’s representation and participation in Indian politics, and a delay in its application will compromise the principles of democracy.

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“Despite the unanimous passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023 there has been a significant delay in its implementation. The lack of tangible progress or a clear road-map for implementation raises concerns about the sincerity of the authorities in giving effect to this vital legislative measure,” the petition stated.

On September 21, a watershed bill to reserve one-third of the seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies for women received the parliamentary nod, as the Rajya Sabha voted unanimously in its favour.

Congress leader Jaya Thakur has filed a petition before the top court seeking immediate implementation of the 128th Constitution (Amendment) Bill-the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam- before next year’s general election.

The 33 per cent reservation for women will not apply to the Upper House of Parliament and state legislative councils.

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