New Delhi, May 6 : The much awaited Women's Reservation Bill will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha today, following an approval by the Union Cabinet late last evening at an emergency meeting called by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at his residence.
After its introduction in the Upper House, the proposed Bill, for which the Union Law Ministry has drafted two options, will be referred to the Standing Committee to facilitate political parties to raise their objections.
Railway Minister and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Monday told reporters that his party will not oppose the introduction of the bill but will raise the issue of quota within quota for women belonging to backward classes, minorities and the dalits.
The Janata Dal (United), the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have also expressed similar views.
Meanwhile, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechuri said that his party favoured the tabling of the Bill in its original form and urged all political parties to participate in the discussion and not to prevent the introduction of the Bill.
Between the Law Ministry's two drafts, the first one is to seek a 33.3 per cent reservation for women within the existing strength of the two Houses of Parliament, and the second calls for increasing the strength of the 545-member Lok Sabha to 900. The Election Commission has also suggested an alternative by making it mandatory for parties to reserve seats for women in each State.
This would involve amendment to the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the parties could lose recognition if they failed to provide reservation to women. The other options suggested are rotation and sharing of seats, which were, however, not acceptable to women's groups. The proposed legislation to reserve 33.3 percent seats in Parliament and state legislatures for women was drafted first by the HD Deve Gowda-led United Front government. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 12, 1996. Though it has been introduced in Parliament several times since then, the Bill could not be passed because of lack of political consensus.
If the Bill is passed, one-third of the total available seats would be reserved for women in national, state, or local legislatures.
In continuation of the existing provisions already mandating reservations for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes, one-third of such SC and ST candidates must be women.