India (Republic of India) has a Bicameral parliament with legislated quotas at the sub-national level. 78 of 542 (14%) seats in the Lok Sabha / House of the People are held by women.
At a glance
Structure of Parliament: Bicameral
Are there legislated quotas...
- For the Single/Lower House? No
- For the Upper House? No
- For the Sub-National Level? Yes
Are there voluntary quotas...
- Adopted by political parties? No
Is there additional information?...
Last updated: Jul 5, 2019
Quota at the Sub-National Level
- Quota type: Reserved seats
|Quota type: Reserved seats||Constitution||The constitution guarantees the reservation of not less than 33% of the total number of seats to be filled by direct elections in local government bodies in villages and municipalities for women. In addition, within seats reserved in every village council (panchayat) or municipality council for scheduled castes and tribes (the percentage to be proportional to the population of such groups in the respective territory) not less than 33% shall be reserved for women belonging to these groups. At least 33% of the offices of chairpersons of councils is also reserved for women. Reserved seats are allotted to different territorial constituencies on a rotational basis. The constitution further stipulates that ‘the offices of the chairpersons in panchayats, municipal councils and at any other level shall be reserved for castes, tribes and women in such manner as the legislature of a State may, by law, provide’ (Constitution, Article 243D (2), (3) and (4) and 243t).|
|Electoral law||Among India’s 28 states, a number provide for reserved seats ranging from 33% to 50% of the total seats in local government councils, both in panchayat and municipality levels. States with 50% reserved seats in panchayats and municipalities include Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tripura, while other states (including Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal) have 50% reserved seats for women only for panchayats.|
|Legal sanctions for non-compliance||N/A||Not applicable|
|Rank order/placement rules||Constitution||Reservation of wards (territorial constituencies) within territorial areas of local councils is allotted to different wards on a rotational basis.|
India is a federation with local, state and federal levels of governance. The Federal Constitution of India provides the system of minimum 33 per cent reserved seats for women in directly-elected local councils of various types, including villages, blocks and districts. The Constitution provides the right of every state to determine the amount of reserved seats in each local council above the required minimum of 33 per cent. Various states reserve different percentages of seats at the panchayat and municipal levels, while several have provided for up to 50 per cent reserved seats for women at both levels. The selection of wards (the lowest-level units which elect village panchayats or municipal councils) to be reserved for women in each election is performed randomly, through lots, and is conducted at the level of the state government which is responsible for elections of local self-governance bodies in the federal system. Lots are drawn in advance of the election date to determine the list of wards. Wards reserved for women rotate at every election. While this ensures that the effect of the reservation is spread broadly across different wards, the system has been criticized for its negative effect on continuity for women representatives (Rai 2005: 176).
Since the early 1990s the Women’s Reservation Bill has been discussed repeatedly with various reformulations, but has not been adopted by parliament’s lower house (the Lok Sabha or ‘House of the People’). Two initial bills, tabled in 1996 and 1998, respectively, aimed at reforming the Constitution to introduce the system of reserved seats for the parliament but expired at the end of the respective parliaments. In 1999 a third bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha but was also unsuccessful.
Another attempt was made by tabling the Constitution Bill of 2008 with the purpose of reserving at least one-third of the total number of seats in the Lok Sabha and in the state legislative assemblies for women, and reserving not less than one-third of seats for women within the seats reserved for scheduled castes and tribes. Under this bill, widely known as the Women’s Reservation Bill, reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory, as determined by law. The reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist or expire after 15 years of the commencement of the proposed Amendment Act. The bill was approved by the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) on 9 March 2010. However, in order for it to enter into force, it must also be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Lok Sabha.
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