Pass women's bill in present form: Panel

Pass women's bill in present form: Panel

Stating that reservation was a “necessary strategy” to enhance participation of women in the decision-making process, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice observed that the law should be passed "and put into action without further delay".
The committee headed by Jayanthi Natarajan submitted its report in both the Houses on Thursday.

“The committee is of the considered view that reservation for women is needed to compensate for the social barriers that have prevented them from participating in politics and thus making their voices heard. It is of the opinion that this Bill is a crucial affirmative step in the right direction of enhancing the participation of women in the state legislatures and Parliament and increasing the role of women in democratisation of the country,” the report said.

It also expressed its “firm” opinion that reserving seats for women in the state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha should not be left to the discretion of political parties; rather it should be guaranteed in the Constitution itself and enforced by all means.
Regretting that the "much required" reservation "has not reached 50 percent of the population, namely women", the committee "strongly" felt that "further time should not be wasted rather the Women's Reservation Bill should be passed in Parliament and put into action without further delay".
There were noisy protests from the Samajwadi Party, the JD(U), and the Rashtriya Janata Dal members as the committee member Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP) tabled the report in the Lok Sabha.

Natarajan faced only minor protests when she tabled the report in the Rajya Sabha.
The Samajwadi Party was the only political party which had submitted a dissenting note to the committee in writing. They had suggested quota for OBC women within reservation, not exceeding 20 per cent.

Rejecting the Gill formula of the Election Commission providing for reservation to women be made mandatory for political parties, the panel said it might lead to political parties giving seats to women, which were not winning seats.
The committee did not endorse the concept of double-member constituencies. It observed that elected women representatives should be granted the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

“Reservation is certainly needed to enable women to cross the social, gender hurdles and to give them a level playing ground/equal opportunities as their male counterparts. Once this ‘equalisation' process is done and 'adequate' political representation of women is achieved, then the time prescribed for reservations may be reconsidered," the committee noted.

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