Panel backs bill on 50 pc women's quota in urban local bodies

The Standing Committee on Urban Development, broadly agreeing to the Constitution (One Hundred and Twelfth Amendment) Bill, 2009, however, suggested some changes in the proposed legislation. The bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on November 24 last year and later it was sent to the committee.

In its report, the committee said "enhancement of reservation for women in urban local bodies would not only ensure their increased representation and participation but also go a long way in articulating the voice of the women who constitute almost 50 per cent of the population."

The bill also provides for reservation of seats for SCs and STs in proportion to their population in the concerned municipal areas.

However, the Sharad Yadav-led committee questioned the move to make reservation for SCs and STs in the offices of chairpersons in municipalities in proportion to their population in the whole state instead of considering their population in a municipal area.

The committee asked when seats in a municipality are reserved for SCs and STs in proportion to their population in the area then why a separate criteria is sought to be adopted for electing the chairperson.

"The committee are of the view that a true demographic representation should be taken into account for electing the chairperson also," it said favouring reservation of offices of chairpersons for SCs and STs based on their population in the particular municipality.
The committee also suggested similar amendment to make reservation in offices of chairpersons in panchayati raj institutions in rural areas.

Seeking proper training for women representatives, the committee said Government must take steps to ensure that the women do not become "proxy" representatives.
The government should initiate rapid training programme for all women representatives of urban local bodies to obviate such proxy representation, it said.

Highlighting the need for having a proper policy for rotation of seats in municipalities and also for offices of chairpersons, the committee urged the government to invite views from all the states on the issue.

The bill has left the matter of rotation of seats as well as prescribing its terms to discretion of state governments. "The committee desires that the rotation cycle of reservation of seats for women may be extended to two terms and strongly feels that there needs to be a uniformity across the states."

On reserving seats for OBCs among women, it said modalities for reservation of seats should be left to states.

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