J&K, Puducherry excluded in draft Amendment Bill
JAMMU, Sept 19: Notwithstanding the abrogation of Article 370 and extension of all Central Laws to Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, the proposed Women Reservation Act will not be simultaneously applicable to J&K along with other parts of the country.
It may sound strange, but is true that the Government may still require amendment either in the proposed Women Reservation Act or Jammu Kashmir Re-organization Act for quota to women in J&K Legislative Assembly as there is no mention of Article 239A in the draft bill, which governs representation in J&K Assembly.
As per the draft of the Constitution (One hundred and twenty eights) Amendment Bill- 2023, there is mention of Article 239AA, which governs representation in Delhi Assembly and not Article 239A, thus making it clear that it shall be applicable to the Legislative Assembly of Delhi and not J&K.
Article 239A deals with representation in the Legislative Assemblies of Puducherry and J&K Union Territories.
Pertinent to mention that the Union Government on Tuesday introduced a bill to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. The bill has proposed that the reservation will continue for a period of 15 years and there will be quota for SC/STs within the reserved seats for women. According to the bill, the reservation of “as nearly as may be, one-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election” will come into effect after a delimitation exercise is undertaken and will continue for 15 years. Seats reserved for women will be rotated after each subsequent delimitation exercise.
According to draft of the bill, there shall be amendment of Article 239AA as well as insertion of new Articles 330A, 332A and 334A, after Articles 330, 332 and 334, respectively of the Constitution for affecting women reservation.
Article 330 of the Indian Constitution provides for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People while Article 332 provides for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States. Similarly, Article 334 of the Indian Constitution relates to the reservation of seats for SC/ST and the representation of Anglo-Indians in the Lok Sabha & State Legislative Assemblies.
Even as amendment in Article 239AA is being affected for women reservation in the Delhi Assembly, both J&K and Puducherry have been excluded as there is no mention of Article 239A in the draft bill.
There are only three Union Territories (Delhi, J&K and Puducherry), which have their own Legislative Assemblies.
Therefore, it is clear that for the women reservation in J&K, the Government will have to amend either J&K Re-organisation Act and UT Act- 1963 or the proposed Women Reservation Act.
When contacted, top legal experts confirmed that Government needs to amend J&K Re-organisation Act and UT Act- 1963 in case it wants to reserve 33 percent seats for women in Assemblies of J&K and Puducherry.
“In my understanding, J&K and Puducherry are not there in the draft amendment bill. My louder thinking is that the Government of India may deem it proper to correspondingly amend J&K Re-Organization Act for women reservation here,” said a top legal authority on the subject matter.