AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE 243D FOR ENHANCING RESERVATION FOR WOMEN IN PANCHAYATS TO 50%

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The Union Cabinet approved the proposal for moving a Constitutional Amendment Bill for enhancing reservation for women in Panchayats at all tiers from one third to at least 50%. This provision will apply to the total number of seats filled by direct election, offices of chairpersons and seats and offices of chairpersons reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Background:

The President of India in her address to the Parliament on 4.6.09 has mentioned the intent to provide fifty per cent reservation for women in Panchayats as women suffer multiple deprivations of class, caste and gender and enhancing reservation in Panchayats will lead to more women entering the public sphere.

According to article 243G of the Constitution, State legislatures may endow Panchayats with such powers and authority as may be necessary (i) to enable them to function as units of local self-government (LSG), and (ii) to prepare and implement plans / or schemes for economic development and social justice including those in relation to matters listed in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution. Panchayats as such have a vital role to play in the welfare and development of the weaker sections of the society, viz., women, SCs and STs. Greater representation of these sections would enhance their voice in these bodies and promote inclusive governance which is critical to the inclusive growth.

Ministry of Panchayati Raj will move a Bill for amendment to Article 243D of the Constitution at the earliest after approval of the Cabinet. The proposed amendment will increase reservation for women in (i) the total number of seats to be filled by direct election, (ii) offices of chairpersons and (iii) in seats and offices of the chairpersons reserved for SCs and STs, to 50% in all tiers of Panchayats.

Enhancement of reservation for women in Panchyats will facilitate more women entering the public sphere and thereby lead to further empowerment of women and also make Panchayats more inclusive institutions, thereby improving governance and public service delivery.

There is no financial implication in operationalization of the proposal.

At present, out of the total elected representatives of Panchayats numbering approximately 28.18 lakhs, 36.87% are women. With the proposed Constitutional Amendment, the number of elected women representatives is expected to rise to more than 14 lakhs. Having more elected women representatives would benefit the entire population of the States and UTs where Panchayati Raj is in existence.

All States/UTs and parts thereof to which Part IX of the Constitution applies would be covered (Part IX does not apply to Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram, tribal areas of Assam, Tripura and hill areas of Manipur).

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