PUCL Bulletin, May 2002

A letter by Syed Shahabuddin
Muslim objections to the women's reservation bill

22 March 2002

The Constitutional Amendment Bill for Reservation for Women Legislatures is again on the agenda of the Parliament.

As you are aware, the Muslim community as well as other weaker sections have two reservations on the Bill.

In the existing social, economic and political situation, the main beneficiaries will be women largely from the high caste and the elite, thus enabling the high castes to compensate for their dwindling representation in the legislature.
The more the space is concerned by reservation, the less are the chances for minorities and weaker sections to be elected. With 33% for women, the total would be 55.5.

We are, therefore, of the view that to safeguard the interest of the OBCs and the Muslims, the women's quota (excluding the sub-quotas for SC and ST) should be divided pro rata among the high Caste and the Backward Minorities. Thus 4% should be reserved for Muslims who form a Backward Class.
We also feel that a better approach would be to make it mandatory by law for every recognized political party to field women to the extent of 33-1/3% in its candidates at every election.

- Syed Shahabuddin.

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