‘Surprised you have not taken stand’: SC nudges Centre on women’s quota bill plea | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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‘Surprised you have not taken stand’: SC nudges Centre on women’s quota bill plea

ByAbraham Thomas
Aug 11, 2023 03:54 PM IST

The Supreme Court asked the union government’s senior law officer why the Centre was shying from filing a response to the PIL on women’s reservation bill

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the union government why it hadn’t filed its response to a public interest litigation on women’s reservation, saying it was too important an issue for the government to shy away from.

The Supreme Court first asked the Centre to respond to the petition in November last year (Sanchit Khanna/HT File Photo)
The Supreme Court first asked the Centre to respond to the petition in November last year (Sanchit Khanna/HT File Photo)

The petition filed by the National Federation of Indian Women two years ago wanted the court to order the government to revive the 33% women reservation bill that lapsed in 2014.

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“Why is the government shying away from filing a response? We are surprised that you have not taken a stand. It is too important an issue that concerns us all,” a bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and SVN Bhatti

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who appeared for the petitioner, told the court that the petition also made major political parties such as Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress as respondents but the Communist Party of India was the only party to file its affidavit.

The bench remarked, “Obviously there are certain restrictions on us which we cannot exceed. But a reply should be filed by the union government. I was also interested to see what political parties had to say on this issue. But none of them, except one, has come forward.”

Bhushan said these political parties have supported the cause of the petitioner in their manifestos but have chosen to remain silent in these proceedings.

Additional solicitor general KM Nataraj agreed to file a response as the bench posted the matter for hearing in October. “We thought the restriction (that applies to court) applies to us too,” he said.

A bench headed by justice Khanna issued notice on the PIL in November last year and gave the government six weeks to file a response. The matter was scheduled to be taken up in March when the Centre again sought time and was given six weeks.

The petition said that the “patriarchal mindset of our society has led to the oppression of women denying them their rightful status as equals. This can only be changed if women are placed in positions of authority to effectively bring about such alterations.”

The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008, known as Women’s Reservation Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2010. The same lapsed in 2014 after the 15th Lok Sabha got dissolved.

“The non-introduction of the Bill is arbitrary, illegal and is leading to discrimination,” the plea said.

The plea added, “Although equality of the sexes is enshrined in the Constitution, it has not become a reality even in the 75th year of Indian independence. Women represent almost 50% of the population of India but their representation in the Parliament is only about 14%.

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