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

The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to entertain a petition 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.

Observing that the petitioner has no “personal interest” in the matter, Justice Subramonium Prasad asked her to file a public interest litigation (PIL) instead.

“What is your personal interest in it? Prayer is purely in public interest,” the judge said.

The counsel for the petitioner contended she represented “entire womanhood”.

Justice Prasad allowed the petitioner to withdraw the plea with liberty to file a PIL as per the applicable rules.

The central government lawyer said the issue of implementation of the law was already pending before the Supreme Court.

Officially known as Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, the the bill envisaged 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.

Yogamaya MG said in her petition before the high court that effective implementation of the the 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.

“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.

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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 128th Constitution (Amendment) Bill will now require the approval of a majority of the state assemblies. It will be implemented after a delimitation exercise to redraw parliamentary and assembly constituencies on the basis of a census that the government has said will be commissioned next year.

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

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