Rajya Sabha passes women quota bill

* Seven MPAs suspended for flouting parliamentary decorum

NEW DELHI: A landmark bill that would reserve one-third of all seats in India’s parliament for women cleared its first hurdle on Tuesday when members of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of parliament) approved it after a rancorous debate.

After the vote that saw 186 out of the 248 members back the draft law, the speaker of the Rajya Sabha, Hamid Ansari announced, “The motion is adopted by the required number of members of the House.”

The government needed a two-thirds majority to pass the legislation, which will result in a change to the constitution.

The bill will now pass to the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, where a third of seats will also be reserved for women. If it clears these two stages, it will then require presidential consent.

MPAs suspended: The quota law has been consistently stalled by opposition in parliament since it was first introduced 14 years ago and it led to controversy once again, with seven members suspended from the upper chamber after unruly behaviour.

The bill was introduced again on Monday, International Women’s Day, but politicians opposed to it forced repeated adjournments and at one point ripped up the law, threw shreds of paper at the speaker and grabbed his microphone.

The MPAs who have been suspended include four members of the Samajwadi Party (SP), two from the Janata Dal United (JDU) and an independent MPA.

SP Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav maintained that the Congress government had not taken any of the political parties on board regarding the bill.

Meanwhile, Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Chief Lalu Prasad and JDU leader Sharad Yadav met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to demand amendments in the bill. agencies


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