The special session in the new Parliament building started with the government tabling the Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks to keep one-third of seats in the lower House of Parliament and state assemblies for women.
However, the Cabinet approved the bill one month after the Supreme Court chided the Centre for not making its stand clear on the issue of women’s quota.
On August 11, the apex court asked the Centre why it had not filed its response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in 2021 by the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW).
“You have not filed a reply. Why are you shying away? Why have you not filed a reply? Say you want to implement it, or not. It’s too important an issue to be thrown on the back burner. It’s too important. It concerns all of us,” a bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and S V N Bhatti had asked the Centre.
The collective moved the Supreme Court for the reintroduction of the bill in the Lok Sabha. The bill, also known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008, was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010. But it lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha (when the first Narendra Modi government took charge in 2014).
During the August hearing, the court expressed surprise at the reluctance of political parties to take a stand on the issue and adjourned the case to October. Reiterating that the Centre has to file a reply, Justice Sanjiv Khanna even indicated that on the next day, the court would issue an order while staying within the bounds of permissible judicial intervention.
This was not the first time that the court underscored the significance of the issue. The ‘constitutional importance’ of the women’s reservation issue was stressed by the court in November of last year while issuing notice and seeking the central government’s response.
(With inputs from Live Law)